CJ Orazi: It Ain’t All Unicorns & Rainbows (2017)

US artist and composer CJ ORAZI is, in his own words, a “tattoo artist and painter by day, musician by night. Aspiring entrepreneur 24/7!”. He is fairly active as a live performer from what I understand, but are still in the early stages of being a recording artist. “It Ain’t All Unicorns & Rainbows” is his debut album, and is set to be released towards the end of March 2017.

CJ Orazi is an artist that, to my understanding, resides at the core of what is described as roots music. Basically operating out from two different but related foundations: That of the acoustic based singer/songwriter on one hand, and old school, traditional blues on the other.

He is skilled at setting up compelling, often simple arrangements where plucked and wandering acoustic guitars complements and supplements his vocals in a good manner, and also knows how to effectively add impact to the songs by variations in intensity on his core instrument and hos vocals. Both by applying both with either a gentler or firmer mode of intensity, but also using them as contrasting features with one kept gentle and the other in a more expressive and impact oriented manner.

Much the same is the case when he expands his material more, as is more often the case for the compositions with a former base in blues, where additional guitars and percussion provides additional dimensions where such features can be explored, for instance a ghostly, nervous guitar overlay or firm, plucked acoustic guitar providing an ongoing contrast to the rhythm guitar and the vocals.

At times he will also venture out towards a form of music much closer to what most would describe as Country, and he does so in a striking and compelling manner. Mainly by keeping it simple and, at least as I experience this, avoiding most of the more commonly used cliches of that genre. I also note that, at least as I experience this album, that there’s something of a Southern vibe present as a rather frequent but often subtle undercurrent.

CJ Orazi comes across as a skilled composer and performer, but ultimately what makes this album feel alive and vibrant are his vocals. Many, if not most, of these songs relies heavily on a skilled vocalist to carry them, and CJ Orazi is a singer that has a good voice and is well aware on how to use it effectively. He has a good range, are just as much at ease with the gentle delivery as with a more powerful one, and has a distinctly emotional voice that I suspect merits a description as just about universally appealing.

Those who tend to love most music described as being of the roots variety, and then in particular those fond of what I’d describe as a distinctly US flavored take on acoustic singer/songwriter, traditional blues and country, should find this album to be generally appealing. Those with a taste for a high quality, strong vocalist operating in these waters in particular.

My rating: 8/10

Track list:
Your Man; Tied Up; She Loves Me (Not); Feelin’ Bad; Rebel on the Run; Cancer; Expectations; More; Pride; Martyr

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