My Music is a stellar spiritual soul / jazz-funk gem, recorded by keyboardist-singer Samuel Jonathan Johnson in 1978. The epitome of a cult classic, it didn't do much upon its release but steadily found an audience over the decades that followed. It eventually worked its way into the culture, and latterly the wantlists, of wave after wave of soul aficionados.
This is music that shares the jazzy R&B DNA of contemporaries like Roy Ayers and is an intoxicating blend of mellow moments and more groove-heavy tracks. Spacey keys and lush production give it a luxurious, enveloping warmth.
My Music opens with the gorgeous title track: an indulgent slow jam opus. Introducing us to Johnson’s compelling musical vision, it features a rich mélange of production techniques. Dripping in strings, horns, backing singers, popping funk bass lines and swooshing synth waves, it’s an unusually structured cosmic two stepper that has an irrepressible groove. Accordingly, it’s been a favourite with the diggers and it was sampled by The Alchemist for Jadakiss’s “We Gonna Make It” (and it was also used on Ras Kass’s “Home Sweet Home”… but that’s a story for another time).
The up-tempo “Sweet Love” bubbles over with joy, its uplifting lyrics backed by infectious bass and jazzy Fender Rhodes lines. It follows a cover of “What the World Need’s Now Is Love”, taken at a funereal pace that transforms it into a heartfelt plea for love and understanding. Essential in these dark days.
After a full-minute-long opening of lush cinematic strings and horns, “Because I Love You” makes space for Samuel’s voice, accompanied by some keys and just a sprinkle of guitar. It builds back up and then mellows its way out to a jazz lounge finish (in all the right ways). The feel-good ebullience of the Stevie Wonder-esque “It Ain’t Easy” closes out the LP’s first side.
The second side bursts open with the heavy bounce and disco-funk basslines of “You”, a slightly off-beat string-laden dancer with insistent horns and a piano-assisted groove. Next up is “Just Us”, a legendary steppers track that could be heard oozing out of deep soul radios and funk sound systems back in the late 80s.
“Yesterdays and Tomorrow” is a moving original ballad that is followed by an exquisite high-stepping paean to mom in the form of “Thank You Mother Dear”. The thumping easy-glide of “Reason For The Reason” brings the album to a close.
Respectfully mastered by Simon Francis and cut by the master Pete Norman, this reissue of Samuel Jonathan Johnson’s sole LP sounds as sumptuous as that scarlet gown on the front cover. The sleeve artwork was lovingly restored by the Be With team. My Music is a luxurious and rare collection of songs that now has an opportunity to reach beyond its cult audience.