Calling teenager Justin Lee Schultz a prodigy is an understatement. If you listen to any of his songs without knowing who the artist is, you would never guess that someone so young wrote and recorded the tracks.
The debut album is called Gruv Kid, and Schultz has enlisted some great artists for their input, including Najee, Jonathan Butler, Harvey Mason, Bob James, and James Lloyd.
The album is full of originals and two remakes that you will certainly enjoy.
Let's take a listen!
Review - 'Gruv Kid' by Justin Lee Schultz
The set starts out with African Chant. The track features Najee, but you will have to wait for that. The piano intro will immediately take you in, and you get the sense that he really means business. In addition to that piano, the overall sound is pretty raw, in a good way. The drums are mic'd in a way that it sounds like they are playing in an abandoned hall. The vibe is definitely paying homage to the Motherland, and that Najee horn is like the icing on the cake.
You can check out a live version below.
Up next is a remake of the iconic Angela. You know the one...The theme from the show Taxi. Bob James and Harvey Mason lend their talents here, and you will love this updated version. The keyboard sounds really make this song, and if you want to know what a piano masterclass sounds like, this is it!
The other remake is the Stevie classic, Do I Do. Schultz comes at you with the talkbox, and we are not mad at that. His piano style showcases his youthful energy, and that is on full display here. This version will definitely attract a new, younger audience.
The celebration of South Africa is next, with Over SA. Schultz was born in South Africa, and featured is the great Jonathan Butler. One cannot get enough of Butler scatting along with the guitar. The South African instrumental style is very unique, and they capture the feeling quite nicely with this track.
The title track is up next. Gruv Kid is produced by Kim Waters and Julius Schultz, and it features...the talkbox. This is an uptempo track that will make you want to move. We can make this a family affair, as Jamie-Leigh Schultz is on drums. The instrumentation on the track is truly incredible.
The pace slows down a little with Miracle. This song is a snapshot of his talent, as he plays all of the instruments. Just sit back and enjoy the music.
Just In is next. James Lloyd from Pieces Of A Dream wrote the song, and he is also featured on keyboards. Gerald Albright has a short cameo with his horn. It has a New Jack vibe and it is almost a duel between two skilled keyboard players. The result: We all are the winners because we get to enjoy the great music.
Better Days is the smooth groove that I didn't know I needed. Just listen to Schultz tickle those keys...it is just smooth like butter, and Paul Jackson, Jr. is in there on the guitar. There is also a nice horn arrangement that is not overpowering, and it sits right there in the cut. All of the elements of a great song.
Color Blind is up next. This is a groovy tune that feature some serious musicians, including Jeff Lorber, Alex Al, and Gary Novak. Do not get it twisted, Schultz is still the star of the show, especially with those synthesizers.
In Back Of The Moon, you get a funky track with a live concert feel. The keys and the guitar lead the way, and it sounds like a jam session, where luckily, someone had the sense to hit record. You can feel the energy from that session literally come through the speakers.
The set comes to a conclusion with Quarantine. We can all relate to that title. Nothing heavy here, just a talented musician doing his thing on the keyboards. This is one more chance to experience this talented teen 'unplugged'.
GRUV KID is an album that has something for the younger set AND the mature folks that simply want to listen to some good music. Justin Lee Schultz really hit it out of the park, and we are sure this is just the beginning of a long career.
You can stream it now through your favorite service.