"I stay on my grind, all the time," proclaims Christian Berishaj, otherwise known as JMSN (pronounced Jameson). The Michigan-raised, L.A.-based singer-songwriter and producer is somewhat of an underground darling in the world of "alternative R&B" and his penchant for blues, soul and "boogie basics" — check out his Detroit-styled dance moves in his videos — has marked him as an artist who has carved out a unique place in the music landscape.
With latest album Whatever Makes U Happy, his fifth solo effort, JMSN shifts away — ever so slightly — away from his dark-tinged musical output and lighten things up. The album title serves as his current outlook on life; opening single "Drinking" lays it out with alcohol-influenced lyrics like "Just because you have a pre-conceived notion of what I should do/ Don't mean it's the truth" and "I'll keep singing/ Until I lose my voice and die."
For the uninitiated, think Justin Timberlake vocals with a '90s R&B outlook — but even that comparison is a bit disingenuous. As an artist, there's a level of veracity in his take on blues and soul; this manifests itself on smoky numbers such as "Love Ain't Enough," the gospeldelic "Slide" and the cinematic, orchestral vibe of "Where Do You Go." Closing things out, the electric organ of "Patiently" is a perfect distillation of JMSN's mastery of his alt-R&B sound: "I'm too numb to feel pain/ Too grown to play this game/ How did I get here."
With Whatever Makes U Happy, he proves that he's here to stay, like it or not. Thus far, listeners are firmly the former. (White Room Records)