By ANGELA XU
“Ooh, teach me to love just to let me go.”
On Sep. 25, Japanese singer-songwriter George Miller, otherwise known as Joji, released his album, Nectar, which comprises multiple songs that feature artists like Diplo, Lil’ Yachty, and more. From creative beginnings, Joji became a well-known artist and producer who joined the record label 88Rising and released his very first album, Ballads 1, in 2018. From the success of his first album, Joji became the first Asian-born artist to top Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Nectar will be Joji’s second official album under 88Rising. The album mainly consists of songs with different styles from the R&B-rap, MODUS, to the upbeat pop, Daylight.
Ultimately, the album’s soothing instrumentals, emotional lyrics and impassive vocals combine to make a melancholic masterpiece.
In the album's opener, Ew, the song kicks it off with soft piano instrumentals that transition into Joji's calming vocals. With a slow start, as the song continues, the ballad develops into more classical instrumentals. From the overall tones of the song, the shift from a soft beginning melody to an abrupt orchestral finish leaves fans expectant towards what comes next in the album.
Other than Joji’s remarkable producing skills, the artist’s strengths also lie within his simple yet relatable lyrics. Throughout the album, Joji bases the concept around his experiences with love. For example, in the eighth-track Sanctuary, Joji expresses the idea that his lover is essentially his safe place, referring to the main verse, “Not anyone, you’re the one/ More than fun, you’re the sanctuary.” This take on love Joji sings about makes the album relatable to listeners, as he successfully encapsulates meaningful lyrics that connect to his personal life.
While some might say that the disorganization of Joji’s album ruins the overall mood of the songs with the collective music list containing a wide range of genres, Joji tones it down after the first couple of songs and returns to his old style that is evidently very similar to the tracks in Ballads 1. That similarity of instrumentals, vocals, and vibes to his very first album proves that Joji did not really lose his “sound,” but is attempting to expand his music potential by experimenting with different styles.
While it is no Ballads 1, this new release encapsulates the Joji fans know and love. His music style is evident throughout the album, no matter if the song is a rap or a ballad.
Essentially, what makes Joji so beloved in the first place is the fact that he sticks to a certain style. This original “sound” can be found in the album with songs such as Tick Tock and Pretty Boy. Tick Tock has the same sort of style as CAN’T GET OVER YOU in Ballads 1, as both songs share the same characteristic of having a hard bass as the guiding beat and Joji’s inexpressive vocals to match. Similar to Tick Tock, Pretty Boy plays to the same melodic style compared to another track in his first album, XNXX.
Despite the similarities, it is also undeniable that Joji has improved from his previous album. For example, Joji showcases his impressive vocal control in the seventh-track, Run, a song that delivers a solid and catchy chorus with his notable falsettos. The same can be said for the fourteenth-track, Mr. Hollywood, where Joji displays his vocal flexibility by fluctuating between a low bass tone to a high vocal note after each measure. Ultimately, Nectar displays Joji’s newfound potential in delivering dynamic shows contrasting to his previously monotone performances.
Although Joji’s shift in style was a target for criticism, Joji’s authenticity shines through his songs. A majority of his fans say they found the new album to go beyond expectations as a huge step up from Ballads 1.
Overall, Joji has shown his improvement and willingness to explore different kinds of music with his new release. His amazing singles and collaborations incorporating his refined instrumentals, lyrics and vocals have undoubtedly been the major highlight of this album, leaving his fans wanting more.
Hopefully, Joji will release new music to quench that thirst soon!