by Scott Roos
Released back in March, Come Along With Me, the third album by Regina based country rocker JJ Voss is a treatise in the positivity of the human spirit. The result of an epiphany in a hospital bed whilst recovering from a back surgery in 2017, Voss decided to cast off the stereotypical lyrical content of country music - dogs, trucks, cheatin’ and drinkin’ - for a more feel good approach. It’s a nice change of pace from the norm which is something altogether not lost on Voss.
“I experienced some of the coolest things in my life travelling throughout Europe and witnessing different cultures. People living harmoniously. All these cultures that have been around a lot longer than (the countries of Canada and the USA) and I absolutely loved how these different countries could live beside each other with different currencies and different languages and they all somehow got along. And then I looked at what was going on at home (in Canada) at the time. There was that influx of refugees from the middle east, from Syria that had nowhere to go and the world was trying to figure out what to do with them and everybody was trying to do their part to bring some refugees in and it was such a controversial topic for some reason,” explained Voss, “And so yeah that’s where the concept came from because I was laying in bed there saying ‘I just travelled halfway across the world and I saw how other cultures could live harmoniously with each other and we’re tearing each other apart here and for what reason?’ and that was definitely where I came up for the theme of this record.”
As a result, Come Along With Me is a record that sues the listener for peace, love and understanding and is mixed with the gentle, happy go lucky nature of Voss on his soapbox asking some pretty important societal questions.
“I didn’t want to come up with something scathing and negative. There’s enough of that going on in the world right now. I didn’t want to just join the argument and add another dissenting voice. If I was going to come forward and use my voice for something I wanted it to be to try to add something positive to the conversation,” says Voss.
The title track “Come Along With Me” does just that. It features an almost “praise and worship”, churchy vibe but it serves to bring listeners into Voss’s world. “Some People”, clearly the highlight track of the entire record, begs the listener to consider our differences as something beautiful as opposed to something divisive. That’s really the whole point of Voss’s new direction in his lyrics. “The Kind of Man”, the latest single off of Come Along With Me, shows Voss turning inward, but the message of the song still remains the same.
“The overall theme of the record is about being better people and being better citizens within a world community. This one (“The Kind of Man”) is a bit more personal. It’s about being a better person within your own relationship. Being a better person to your significant other. Being a better partner and taking responsibility for your own shortcomings and wanting to put in the work to become a better partner,” relates Voss.
Voss has been in a long term, committed relationship for the past five years with his partner Tammy. He’s had to adjust his mindset and there’s a concerted effort to make the relationship work and continue to evolve and grow together. It’s something that has Voss in good spirits and no doubt played a major factor when it came to the pivot in his lyrics.
“Relationships take a lot of work in order to be harmonious. So I’m trying to own up to that and realize that there’s things that I’ve gotta change if I want to have a partner in this world and vice versa it happens on the other side of the coin as well. I think for anyone that has been in a long term relationship or a marriage or however you wanna characterize it; you’re pretty much preaching to the choir because relationships are great but there’s a lot of work involved,” continued Voss.
In general, Come Along With Me is a record that shows an artist making the best of songs that display subject material that is very much unfamiliar turf for country music. That being said, it’s great to see a guy like Voss, who is a good dude overall, being that voice crying out in the proverbial prairie wilderness. Hopefully this record and the message packaged within will serve to influence other artists to follow in the footsteps of JJ Voss. In the meantime, take a listen to some great music and relish in Voss’s positivity. It serves as a source of encouragement during a time in the history of this planet that sorely needs it.
JJ has a few shows lined up this fall including a stop in Prince Albert at the EA Rawlinson Centre For The Arts on Nov. 21