L. J. Gomez is a music major from Maryland. A man of varied taste, his musical style mainly falls within the broad and boundless genre of jazz and soul. His music has been aired on numerous radio stations and the reason for that becomes apparent on his solo project With Open Hearts and Open Minds.
L. J. Gomez bursts into view with the sweet jazzy pop ballad entitled “Now We’re In May.” Despite wailing out smoothly-delivered, raw vocals such as “I’m just holding on to silly things / This isn’t real life, is it?” the opener is brimming to the surface with joy; twangy guitars, a slow and precisely-delivered beat and thick, satisfying bass guitar create a joyful atmosphere to underlie the slightly-melancholic lyrics.
“Make A Difference” is much of the same bittersweet jazz-pop bliss, but here L. J. Gomez evolves his sound into something a little varied. Eclectic styles, varied drum filler and beautiful female vocals harmonizing with Gomez’s - these elements all combine to create a beautiful second track to follow the impactful opener.
An electronic drum beat pulsates and reverberates as L. J. Gomez dabbles in the world of electronic jazz on track three “Inter-Milan.” This was a welcome surprise on what appeared to be a straightforward release. In the same fashion as his jazz fiddling, this electronic experimentation is not avant-garde for the sake of it - the electronic flow blends perfectly with the tempered jazzy, bass groove weaving and flowing throughout the track. It’s incredible work from an independent musician.
“All Inside My Head (Live)” is a highlight of the album. Live recordings lend beautifully to jazz and L. J. Gomez really holds true to that sentiment on this piece. Free-flowing lyrics, cheeky quips, the best vocal performance on the album and infectious piano arpeggios dance to and fro atop complex, rhythmic drumming. Doses of dissonance and attacks of bass guitar all collide into a cacophony of sweet musical ecstasy. This is jazz with a heavy dose of soul and it’s magnificent.
It is rare that my ears latch on to new talent so quickly, but L. J. Gomez really has something worth listening to. Jazz has never been so exciting.
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