Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Swampy, bluesy, and a little dark at times are my first impressions of Just Like Medicine by A.J. Croce. This album travels through some rhythm and blues, blues, rock and roll, and a little bit of country. A.J. is a very good songwriter and singer and has made one fine album. Just Like Medicine is a tough one to just give it a one word description. A.J. Creates his own category.
This album has top notch production work that makes Take Your Medicine a very easy listen. Ear candy, if you will. Just Like Medicine by A.J. Croce is ear candy. Not just any candy either, this is some Belgian stuff. This is not that waxy chocolate that you only see on Christmas and Easter, No this candy is from the finest ingredients, hand crafted, and makes you want to come back for seconds.
This is A.J.’s ninth studio album and may be his best. Not one laggard on the entire ten track album. “I wanted to make a real soul album, but not a throwback Stax album or a Motown album or anything like that—even though Dan was producing and there are great players from that world and Muscle Shoals on these tracks”, says Croce. I can say mission accomplished.
If 60s and 70s soul is your thing, you will fall in love with this album. Cures Just Like Medicine (Track 4) is straight up soul in the vein of Otis Redding. Yes, I said Otis Redding, but this song measures up. It is a bitter sweet ballad about sadness and the cure for those feelings. It is a gorgeous number that should do extremely well in today’s musical climate. It seems real soul music is back.
I know you all recognize the last name. That is one of the most iconic names in music over the last 50 years. Yes, A.J. is the son of Jim Croce. A.J. was very young when his father passed and sadly, had very few (if any) live memories of his dad. There is a normal tendency to immediately think of the senior Croce.
A.J.’s music stands on it’s own and is quite different than his pop’s. You can certainly hear Jim in A.J., especially on Name Of The Game w/ Vince Gill (Track 3). The story is important, but not to define A.J.’s music. That is why I did not lead with this paragraph. A.J. Croce’s music is quality, regardless of his surname. Take a chance with Just Like Medicine. The reward will far outweigh the risk.