SJ’s guitar work is exemplary, intricate as required but never gratuitously so, more concerned with nuance and texture than dazzling displays of dexterity, though he’s technically flawless – he’s good enough to be endorsed by Taylor guitars. His voice is mellow with just a hint of an earthy rasp, as comfortable and honest as a favorite pair of jeans. It's the kind that sounds open and friendly on first listen and just gets warmer and more inviting with each subsequent tune.
It’s sunny, feel-good music, yet SJ never gets maudlin or sappy. “I Like You” is as uncomplicated as true love, and the results are irrepressibly bouncy. “Coffee” is a reflective gem, moody and introspective, buoyed by subtle strings and shimmery background vocals courtesy of Cat Shell. “Breathe,” with its delicate washes of cymbals and gently percolating percussion, feels as delicate as a gossamer breeze. Both “I Am” and “Fresh Soul” benefit from Randy Singers’ restrained, jazz-inflected harmonica, with additional assistance on the former from fellow Miami singer-songwriter Joshua Stedman.
There’s unpretentious and unvarnished wisdom within “That Is All,” while “It’s Not Me” and “Let Me Be” are both sturdy and stirring. The affecting “Tonight You Are Perfect” is stunning in its quiet simplicity, and the equally hushed “Go Your Way” is poignant and touching in its resigned acceptance of fate. SJ also sings in Spanish, adding a delightful touch of romance to the gently jaunty and hauntingly pretty “Lo Mejor De Mi.”
The end result is quite simply wonderful, music that’s genuinely uplifting and inspiring without any hint of calculation or contrivance. Perfect for lazy days and starlit nights, the aural equivalent of the sweet kiss of a fragrant breeze, SJ’s own description sums it up best: "acoustic soul." It’s music that could only come from a warm heart and a generous spirit.
For more information and sound clips, check out acousticsoulgroup.com/home!