Koji – Crooked In My Mind

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Koji

Crooked In My Mind - Run For Cover Records

It isn’t very often that an artist manages to tour, share split 7” records with established bands and feature in all sorts of news articles across the web without anything substantive backing them up.  But that’s exactly what Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native Koji has done over the past few years.  I’ll admit, there have been times where I’ve posted tour updates and chronicled his humanitarian efforts without knowing anything about his music, assuming that something would eventually follow.

Well, it took a while longer than anticipated, but Koji has finally released his long overdue debut full length, Crooked In My Mind.  Going in cold turkey, the one element I expected from all the solo shows, concert donations and underground popularity was a strong grassroots aura, and it’s certainly present.  While the album draws upon a full band backdrop, it channels an intimate solo approach with acoustic roots.  Songs like “The Near And Far” and “Distance/Divide” pair Koji’s soulful rhythms with his thin, fragile vocal presence.  Tracks like the former lead listeners with low, steady tempos, playing very personal, almost conversational verses off of the far more heightened, declarative chorus line, “it’s not right, something’s off, my heart is telling me.”

Koji’s move from the personal to universal is in a word, effortless.  He translates his career of acoustic shows into songs that listeners will easily connect with.  Take “Fragile Times” for instance; “I’m all grown up, I can’t find home” sings Koji capturing the sense of displacement that anyone who has made it through their early twenties can relate to.  While on paper such words might be subject to emo reproach, his empathetic nature reaches out to rather than pushes on those feelings.  That sensitivity spills over to grander songs like “In The Line,” charging even the catchiest moments with emotional investment.

Life is filled with all sorts of moments.  Some fun, “What You Leave Behind,” and others dramatic, “Pang and Flash” (check out those Lord of the Rings quest worthy backing “ahhhs”); that’s where Crooked In My Mind shines through.  Koji gets that the best way to earn an audience is through forging a connection and offering plenty to relate to.

Given Koji’s short list of tunes out there, it’s tempting to point to Crooked In My Mind’s slim, nine-song track listing as a shortcoming; but that would be ignoring that his concise nature is also his greatest strength.  Koji is a man of few words, but when he speaks, he’s well worth your attention.