PJ Morton’s major label debut, “New Orleans,” offers an introspective take on his life and internal desire to return to the roots of the music that made him happy years ago. To that end Morton has made the album he set out to make.
Still, it falls short in terms of songwriting and depth. Tracks featuring Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and the legendary Stevie Wonder offer a little bit of zest to an otherwise middling R&B album. Levine’s vocal turn on “Heavy” is a high note. And Wonder’s brief harmonica work on “Only One” is instantly recognizable and enjoyable on the album’s best track.
Most of the other songs, like “Trade It All,” wear a patina of artistic regret. We find Morton singing about achieving recording industry success but questioning his artistic path. Those questions would be fine fuel for better songwriting with fewer hit-seeking hooks and more texture.
As it stands, Morton has treated his complex feelings rather routinely on “New Orleans.”