South Jersey singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist 4:44 wrote what he had planned to be his debut album while still in high school around 2012, but he didn’t finish recording it until recently. In the meantime, he has self-produced a stylistically eclectic catalog of seven albums, each focused on a different genre. With the new eighth outing, “In Context,” he explores acoustic pop, playing all the instruments and producing all the tracks, as he has with his subsequent recordings.
The coming-of-age tale of lost innocence opens with the standout “Light Rose,” which 4:44 describes as the first keeper he ever wrote. The alternatingly heartbreaking and uplifting tune chronicles a visit with his mother to see his Aunt Rosie in a rehabilitation center right before her death. The song was inspired by a light shining through a window as they consoled each other. Alongside a mellow but sensual groove reminiscent of John Mayer, 4:44 poignantly sings, “My heart cant speak now. It’s plotting against goodbye, extending incompletes, yet managing to beat when the tears are stuck inside. And I hope you know we got your light rose.”
Throughout the 10-song “In Context,” other 4:44 influences U2 and Bruce Springsteen sneak into the production and songwriting, which also most impresses with the closing “Living Hope.” The soul-pop nugget demonstrates a wisdom far beyond a teenager’s years as he requests God to come to earth once again to clean up the many messes of our world.
4:44 also musically has mined dream pop (2019’s “Dream-Wake”), indie rock (2018’s “Creatures” and 2017’s “Parallelement”), electronic prog-rock (2018’s “Reckoning”), alternative rock (2017’s “Cardinal” and 2016’s “Greenwave”) and acoustic Americana (2015’s “Child of God”). I look forward to his next sonic venture, tentatively entitled “Wilderness,” a new shoegaze affair that flirts with metal and industrial, which he will produce alongside another shelved project, “Higher Learning.” The talented artist also makes his own videos, which he did particularly well for “Living Hope.”