It’s getting to that point you know. We’re beginning to think we’ve hit peak new-wave PBR&B or whatever you’re going to call it. Maybe it’s the comedown from The Weeknd, maybe it’s just the exhaustion of listening to yet another bloke wail about their shallow problems. Either way, it needs to stop.
Which makes us feel thankful for JMSN, who sort of feels like the the right guy doing all the right things at the right time. Christian Berishaj has always been one of the more soulful and likeable of his ilk, and he reinforces this on It Is by taking it back to the warm studio basics, bursting with instrumentation that feels immediately warm and comforting. The strings that stir him and the record awake on the title track are like a lost slice of vintage New York soul, and Berishaj owns the fuck out of it.
Those wholesome strings are what keep him afloat to be honest. On Power he once again channels an air of class that’s often lost in his peers’ sprints over electronic wizardry; indeed, by paring it back, Berishaj reveals himself to be more of a soul man than people who have it in their own lineage. Fuck U is the softest kiss-off you ever did hear, and Cruel Intentions a delicate little flower resting in his hands. There’s a notion that he might be soft in his approach to be taken seriously as a jilted lover, but by and large he makes it work.
There’s no doubt about this record’s richness, then. Funk Outta Here sounds like the most fun West Coast jazz-lounge jam session you ever did hear, its infectious joy springing out in a way few can muster. It’s an absolute joy of an R&B record – not PB, this is the real deal – and songs like Most Of All are just magical little snowglobes of a lost world that remind us how much value there is in genre tradition. It is what It Is, and it’s bloody lovely.