If you’re one of those who throw endless comparisons of pop music to “music of the old” and have always wished for more of the latter today, PJ Bond is the man you’re looking for. Creating a seamless blend of vintage Americana, rock ‘n’ roll rhythms, and singer-songwriter sensibilities, the New Jersey native presents us with a solution in his latest album Where Were You? that is as adequate as anything you will find in our time.
The singer-songwriter showcases his rock ‘n’ roll chops in “Broad Street”, going all out in true Americana fashion. Leading with an inviting groove and style reminiscent of The Eagles’ hit “Take It Easy”, we hear Bond express emotions of reserved hope and anticipated disappointment (“Shall you give me a call if you have my number then? / But I don’t know what you’d say, so let’s just keep it that way”). The boisterous spirit is carried through the upbeat “’87 Broadcast”, the kind of song which would fit perfectly in an old western saloon with its fast-paced rhythms that are almost a throwback to The Yardbirds.
Perhaps one characteristic that is common across the album is the boldness of the singer-songwriter’s vocal chops, taking the lead for various tracks and even pushing them to another level. The opening track “Everglades” is one that he shines in with his uplifting and feel-good melodies, especially against a swinging Real Estate-like sound. “Calm In The Corner” is another where his country chops are placed at the forefront against a laid-back groove with twangy guitar embellishments across the track, culminating in a sweet pedal steel instrumental.
Beyond artistic elements, honesty is the talk of the town with PJ Bond as he channels a level of authenticity through his words and music that have become a rarity in our industry today. Heartfelt messages laced with sensitivity permeate Where Were You?, regardless of the style of each individual track. While “Seer” takes the path of the classic country love song (“Beautiful girl I know you’re scared and that’s all right / Maybe you’ve given it up, maybe it’s not time”), songs like “The Better Option” are where we hear his recollections of a past love in trademark storytelling style (“If you see your mother, please say hello / From an old friend, I once knew her / She said ‘you ain’t the man you pretend to be’”). “For J” is one that sets itself apart for its crisp yet light acoustic musings in the style of Field Report as he adopts a conversational pick-me-up approach that demonstrates heartfelt realism at its best (“I hope you realize, my friend, happiness is yours to find / I think if we take what we need then we can give it a try”).
While Where Were You? may fall into the category of tracks sounding too similar to the others, we still find enough substance and authenticity in the album as a collective. In the space where his Americana influences meet his singer-songwriter insights, producing gems such as “Hellfire”, there’s no denying that PJ Bond has honed something special here that not many can boast of in today’s music. All we need to do on our part is sit back and appreciate the craft.