Simply because he’s not a household name yet, he might not be the first artist who comes to mind when you think of modern rap and R&B, but for the past few years, 25 year old up and coming singer-songwriter, originally from Manchester England, now in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, J-Halliday has been quietly fine-tuning the syrupy sounds that support his soulful crooning, as well as the vocabulary that pushes his laser-sharp rapping. Along the way he’s remained consistent, delivering high-quality music that both challenges and respects the aesthetics of R&B, Pop and Hip-hop.
J-Halliday latest project feels like a coming of age musically. “Love Hurts Less” plays like superbly performed, engineered and produced soundtrack propelled by J-Halliday’s vocal variations, moody basslines, shimmering keys and trunk-rattling beats.
The 15-track album sees the proud double-threat performer, strip away unnecessary layers so that he can evolve and grow. The only feature spot is occupied by AK3K. J-Halliday states that AK3K was too talented to exclude. In fact the two have a few projects set up for the future.
Given that J-Halliday’s tracks are a vibe, it’s no surprise that musically “Love Hurts Less” is top-drawer. Beautifully produced and filled with honest conversations about the intricacies of love, life and relationships. Shooting straight from the heart J-Halliday puts himself in the conversation when it comes to R&B’s new school. Opener “Man On A Mission” is a head-nodding beauty on which delicately played hazy keys melt effortlessly into a broiling beat.
The busy “Dr. Phil” showcases flourishing synths, a growling bassline and J-Halliday unfolding one rhyme after the next, breathlessly. “Smooth Talker” is infused with a weeping horn arrangement, while J-Halliday confirms his rhyming skills and fast flow.
“Say Less” is where we finally get to hear the combination of J-Halliday and AK3K, as their diverse styles juxtapose perfectly, in an ear-warming melodic twist. Skittering synths and a rich choral harmony keeps “Ring Ring” smooth as honey.
Regardless of the tempo or style, it speaks to J-Halliday’s ability to write melody that the instrument’s breath and the emotional weight persists through all of these songs. The melodic backbone of following: “Wait For It”, “Addys”, “Headaches” and “Last Time”, more than confirms my aforementioned statement. J-Halliday is a melodic writing beast. His hooks will fit into any mainstream radio format, regardless of genre.
The slow burn of “Blind 2 Love” establishes a hypnotic groove and strong sentiments. It is one of my favorite tracks on the album, maybe because I’m a sucker for slower heartfelt, emotional songs. The thing to note is, that J-Halliday never gets overwrought or over-melodramatic in his deliveries. They’re always finely tuned to fit the mood and message. This is the same reason why I like “Reckless”.
“Damage Goods” and “Limelight” once again remind us of J-Halliday’s rapping skills, as he unfurls a flurry of verbiage, to make sure we don’t forget any time soon. The melodic writing keeps coming relentlessly on the piano-driven “Be Ok” and “How Bout Now”. All throughout this album, J-Halliday jumps between singing R&B and rapping. The transition between the two styles is perfectly done and further emphasizes his versatility.
J-Halliday’s musical message comes through loud and clear. On “Love Hurts Less” fans and listeners will be able to tell that the singer-songwriter is growing further into his artistic creativity, as he creates sonically rich environments to blast his talents from.