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A.J. Croce; Photo Credit: Karan Simpson
Singer-songwriter and musician A.J. Croce explores the healing power of music with renowned soul songwriter and producer Dan Penn on his upcoming 9th studio album, Just Like Medicine, out August 11th via Compass Records. The LP features an all-star cast including Steve Cropper, David Hood, Vince Gill, Colin Linden, and the McCrary Sisters.
Just Like Medicine also includes his first recording of “The Name of the Game,” an unreleased song by his father, the legendary Jim Croce.
Some artists are afforded the chance to tell their personal stories as they see fit, at a particular moment when they know the time has come. But for many, there is no choice —the story emerges hardwired to the music and they become forever identified with it no matter how their story may evolve or change.
A.J. Croce has been inextricably linked to a version of his own story by virtue of his name. He’s experienced a lifetime of comparisons to a father he lost at age two, whose music bares little resemblance to his own output yet still serves as a reference point despite the years that have passed and the many iconic mentors who have stepped in to offer their counsel, creativity, and endorsement throughout his long career.
It’s curious then that it now feels necessary to include the reference, as enough time has passed that a new generation of tastemakers and journalists might not know who Jim Croce was — that he was a golden-voiced everyman, a singer-songwriter-guitarist who died too soon, leaving one of pop music’s most beautiful and memorable ballads (written about a young A.J.) in his wake.
Croce the younger, on the other hand, is a piano man, first and foremost, and a vocal stylist second. His muted growl pulls from a host of American traditions and anti-heroes — it’s part New Orleans, part juke joint, part soul, but somehow evokes New York, a continuum where John Lurie meets Lou Reed. He is further a songwriter, driven by a personal muse, informed by a life on a boomerang of tragedy.
His gritty and accomplished ninth studio album, produced by legendary soul singer-songwriter and producer Dan Penn, is the latest and arguably greatest effort yet. Penn, of course, is writer of such hits as “The Dark End of the Street,” “Cry Like a Baby,” “I’m Your Puppet” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” and producer of the Box Tops’ “The Letter,” as well as songs and recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Blue Bland, Clarence Carter, and Alex Chilton. Also making appearances are Grammy Award-winning country artist Vince Gill, Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the MGs, Blues Brothers, author of many Stax hits), the McCrary Sisters, and the Muscle Shoals Horns.
Just Like Medicine demonstrates beautifully that A.J. Croce has spent his very musical life forging deep connections with music and musicians, including with producer Dan Penn and many of the other soulful artists who helped him make this new album. “I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of my musical heroes and a lot of people who became my heroes as I worked with them,” Croce explains.
Croce also reveals the backstory behind the song “Gotta Get Outta My Head”, stating, “I was in a dark place. I couldn’t shake it. I was standing in the kitchen of my old house and I started playing a rhythm on a box. I pulled out my phone and recorded the song. I just said what I was thinking and then the song was complete. I was nervous about how to record such a simple emotion. I shared how I felt with all the players and singers and what you hear is Take #1. It was recorded live with me playing a hand drum, singing and playing piano, we captured the darkness without any trouble on a winter day in January. “
Pre-order Just Like Medicine at Compass Records
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