Thirty years ago Chicago-born RJ Comer abruptly withdrew from music school and gave up on his dream to be a musician. Dark years of violence, addiction, poverty, fractured relationships, and suicide attempts followed, culminating in a come-to-Jesus weekend in a Mississippi jail. RJ straightened himself out (mostly), worked his way through college, earned a full scholarship to law school, and became an attorney.
He thought he was done with music, but music wasn’t done with him. Eight years ago, while a partner in a Los Angeles law firm, a band RJ started for kicks got signed.
RJ stormed back into music, fusing his love of roots and blues in two band LPs, two solo EP’s, and several songs for film. Now a full-time musician living in the Tennessee woods, RJ’s toured from Canada to Florida and throughout the U.S., earning official showcases at SXSW, Canadian Music Week, and various songwriter’s festivals—steadily garnering critical acclaim and building a fanbase.
One Last Kiss is RJ’s first solo LP—a collection of songs from a man who transcended hardships few people escape. RJ’s songs are both conversational and poetic, deftly straddling traditional and contemporary Americana and Blues. With a baritone voice that can be powerful, ragged, or soothing, RJ shows the emotional and experiential range of a man who once only knew how to fight or flee, but slowly learned to live and prosper, and eventually learned to love.
This superb album opens with a kind of love song ‘UNDER A LOVER’S MOON’ written by RJ’s wife Deborah as I think he kinds of struggles a little with romantic happy upbeat songs.So Deborah,who runs the business side of their partnership,decided to theme it on their shift from urban life to their dream of living in the Tennessee woods.This track certainly has that upbeat boogie which gets your feet tapping.Great start.
‘IF I COULD BE WATER’ is track 2 and it brings the pace right down. This track reveals the painful falsehood and steep emotional price of being a strong silent type.It is a rootsy and cinematic song with RJ’s voice as smooth as bourbon but as gritty as sand.
Track 3 ‘DESERT MAMA’ is inspired by RJ’s friend,an old time vagabond banjo player and photographer,who decided to live a kind of nomadic lifestyle in the desert commune of East Jesus in California.His friend could contemplate the meaning of existence through art.It is a bluesy kind of song that makes the desert come alive.
‘CAIN’S BLOOD’ is track 4, a cover of a song written by Michael Johnson and Jack Sundrud, and recorded by American country music group 4 Runner.
A fan suggested that RJ cover this song,which was a Christian/Country crossover hit. RJ tracked down the video of the song and to make it his own,RJ slowed it right down and made the guitar chords dirtier.
‘BAD DAY IN PARADISE’ is track 5 and like the previous track I feel it would not be amiss in the hit TV series ‘True Blood’ or ‘Sons Of Anarchy’. It has that element of darkness surrounding it. It came to RJ one morning on an idyllic drive to work along a palm lined Beverley Hills street as storm clouds gathered above.
Track 6 is ‘LET’S RUN’ is a beautifully written country ballad which transmits the same story as the opening track ‘Under A Lover’s Moon’. It tells us of a story of people who want to radically change their lives.
Initially this song was written to a request for songs to be written to accompany a classic telecoms advert involving meerkats!!
This song will certainly resonate with a lot of people wishing to get away from the dull groundhog days of modern life.
Track 7 ‘ALL OVER AGAIN’ and continues in the same theme.It tells us about wanting to spend those few extra minutes curled up in bed with your loved one before setting off to your mundane job with your mundane anal boss. Yet you keep smiling and you kep plodding along because you work for your family.
Dedicated to the workers.
The song is one of my favourites.
‘LEAVE YOUR LIGHT ON’ is track 8 is a lone wolf love song.Driven by two acoustic guitars with stunning chords and all built around a melody that is both pleading and triumphant.
The story tells us of a longing for a loved one whilst travelling alone doing your work,be it a musician,salesman or any job that gets you travelling alone.
Leave Your Light On so I can find my way to you tonight.
Track 9 is ‘HOUSE GROWN COLD’ is a heartbreak love song for a lost love.
A mix of country,blues and Cajun, RJ found it very difficult to write as his love was still prevalent in his life and had been for 23 years,so what did he do? He took a walk near his house on a snowy morning and looked back on his house and imagined what life would be like without his wife Deborah.
‘STILL DOIN TIME’ is track 10.
It is a song written by John Moffatt and Michael P. Heeney, and recorded by American country music artist George Jones which reached #1 in the US charts in 1981.
RJ fell in love with this song whilst in high school. RJ’s version really emphasises the deep regret and suffering in the song by slowing the tempo down to a snails pace. RJ has certainly made this version his own.Love it.
The penultimate track is ‘YOU’D DRINK LIKE I DO TOO’ is written in homage to his own drinking daze and stories he has accumulated in the bars of New Orleans. RJ puts his wry and witty riffs to this song. A favourite amongst fans in his solo shows.You can envisage many a night in the bars and saloons around the world with this song ending the night on the jukebox.
The final track on this terrific album ‘ONE LAST KISS’
‘I honestly don’t remember most of my first kisses but I remember every last kiss’ is what RJ tells the audience when he introduces this song.
It is quite a dark but poetic bluesy track that explores the ultimate last kiss,the kiss of death.
He tells of Edgar Allen Poe,who never recovered from the death of his young bride,he tells of his own heartbreak memory of his mother kissing his fathers body before they closed the casket and of course the most famous last kiss by Judas.
This album really delivers some dark moments but also some beautiful bright love moments too.
Overall the album delivers some superb music that would not be amiss in ‘TRUE BLOOD’ or ‘SONS OF ANARCHY’
Each listen amplifies my liking,and each listen gives me a different definition of country,blues and cajun sounds. RJ’s voice is like a damn good bourbon,smooth yet gritty with that unmistakable kick.
RRM RATING 7.5/10
RRM STAND OUT TRACKS: ‘UNDER A LOVER’S MOON’ ‘BAD DAY IN PARADISE’ ‘LET’S RUN’ ‘ONE LAST KISS’