This is the sort of band project that audiences are likely craving in 2017 – something with variety./ Listeners these days are no longer tethered like past generations to the idea of set band lineups, though they are accustomed to such things, and the hunger for a different experience is palpable and real. Sojo Mojo, a musical project fostered by the creative musical minds of Steven Bauer, Jim Petersen, and John Burke, aims to work around the flaws that invariably drag down even the most talented acts. They have designed this project in such a way that the songs utilize a rotating cast of female singers, giving marquee billing to the singer Gabriella Kreuz, thus ceding to the truth that individual songs of different stripes demand different approaches so that the material reaches its fullest potential and the audience is suitably entertained. “Something to Smile About” and “Just Don’t Ever Tell Me” are the first results of this new project and, based on these performances alone, Sojo Mojo is clearly destined for great things.
“Something to Smile About” has a quasi-tropical lilt, not quite reggae, but not your typical pop jaunt. There’s a minimum of instrumentation at work during this song and the track is largely dominated by Gabriella Kreuz’s voice and the chiming guitar lines that make their presence felt throughout the song. They hit a home run with the song’s chorus and it gives Kreuz a chance to show off her vocal power in a manner afforded to her nowhere else in either track. This is a song with great construction; there’s a pleasing inevitability about the way and when the song’s individual changes come. Even if we can see them coming from a mile away, Kreuz and the musical arrangements carry them off with such aplomb that we can’t help but smile.
“Just Don’t Ever Tell Me” turns to a different musical style, electronic powered funk, and the bass works over the guitars with a memorable line digging deep into the song. Kreuz’s singing has a distinctly different slant here and she weaves her voice as tightly as she can around that bass line while still affording her lyric phrasing and the music alike an opportunity to breathe. There’s much more electronic clutter in this track than what we heard in the first number, but it doesn’t work against the final outcome. Instead, if anything, it gives listeners the feeling that this song has a bevy of musical firepower at its disposal and won’t hesitate to use it. It helps compensate for the lack of a truly big, bold chorus that listeners will hum forever. The Sojo Mojo project has some first class musical artists pushing this forward and they’ve enlisted all the right rising and established stars alike to ensure its success. These are powerful songs sure to attract a following.