The idea driving Sojo Mojo, a project conceived by three movers in the music industry, Steve Bauer, Jim Petersen, and John Burke, is that bands and artists with any sort of real staying power are subject to staleness eventually because of a lack of vocal variety and imagination. Their remedy for this is Sojo Mojo, a project where Jim Petersen’s songwriting is served by a battery of distinctly different female voices therefore giving the songwriting and performances needed spice that they might otherwise lack. The first two songs that are the fruits of their ambition, “Something to Smile About” and “Just Don’t Ever Tell Me”, do an excellent job of illustration the exciting possibilities behind this approach and give a spotlight moment to the considerable talents of young singer Gabriella Kreuz, but these are fundamentally excellent songs that are well served by the singing and production alike.
“Something to Smile About” is arguably the more conventional of the two and that’s a likely reason why it was chosen as the lead single. The track has a bright bounce and a hook laden chorus that’s impossible to ignore. It’s a pure pop song and the transitions are invariably predictable, but what put this track over the top ultimately is two-fold and related. Kreuz’s immensely charismatic vocals never have to reach for effect. There’s no sense, at any point, of her pandering to the listener. Instead, she knows what she’s doing from the outset and you find yourself willing to trust her as the song’s singer/ The simple poetry of the song, as well, is a strength. Despite decades of similar songs and formulas, there’s no sure method for capturing the universal in a way that makes listeners tune in once more.
The second track “Just Don’t Ever Tell Me” comes across in a much different way. The bass line is a definite musical highlight on this performance and has weaves its fat thread throughout the entirety of the tune. The lyrics are a little darker, but more sarcastic in a fashion, than what the project explored with its first song, but Kreuz keeps us entertained with an equally sassy and skeptical vocal. Her gifts as a singer don’t announce themselves with trumpets in this setting. Instead, she proves to be a great follower of the groove and, on this song, she distinguishes herself in a much different way than we heard on the earlier track. Both songs never overextend the listener’s attention and, instead, retain a razor sharp focus that persists for the duration of both tracks. Sojo Mojo has the potential and talents behind it to become an individual force within the music world and the outside the box thinking propelling its vision is obviously served, already, by top notch songwriting and powerhouse performances.