The fifth album by singer Christian Berishaj, who performs as JMSN, delivers more of the same 90s R&B. ‘Whatever Makes U Happy’ is an album about isolation and the coping methods used to deal with it – mainly alcohol. The album details stories of lost love and the fragile disposition of someone who is left to deal with those feelings. The backdrop for this – groove that wouldn’t be out of place on a Curtis Mayfield album. The smooth, energetic bass punctuates the lamenting lyrics to make you forget how depressing the lyrics are.
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Lyrically, the notion that “No one loves [him]” is made very clear. JMSN‘s lonesome perspective, mixed with is faith in God, and lack of faith in those around him, is a musical area of comfort for Berishaj. The same themes run throughout his catalogue. He looks for ways to cope with the most abject of situations, singing on ‘Always Somethin”, “Don’t expect a thing from no one / ‘Cause they can never get nothin’ right”. So he turns to “drinkin’ all the time” – the common self-destructive comforter. This and his faith in God. On ‘Angel’ he uses these elements of religious choir music. A theme JMSN has touched upon before on his first album ‘Priscilla’. Through the use of harmonies and organ he creates a sense of a choir with his own voice.
JMSN‘s style is rooted in neo 90s R&B. He probably would have been much more popular had he been around then. But musically the album is more complex than a simple R&B album. He picks up on facets of soul, funk and gospel music. There is an energetic groove which permeates throughout. ‘Always Something’ has the sort of depth that you might expect from a Darondo track. The bass line for ‘Where Do U Go’ is so slick, it would make an excellent theme song for a James Bond film. This is accentuated by the use of strings throughout as also seen on ‘Slide’. This track fittingly uses slide guitar showing that Berishaj links song titles to specific musical motifs. There is a unity between the song titles and their sonorous accompaniment.
‘Whatever Makes U Happy’ is complex and multi-faceted even if it doesn’t better JMSN‘s previous work.