If nothing else, JShell’s “In My Head” underscores his passion for music. Over the 15 tracks you’ll find in “In My Head,” JShell sings and jams as a man possessed.
The album's overall quality, energy, and feel are at a level only those who genuinely love and have mastered their craft can reach. It’s an immersive project filled with catch choruses, freewheeling guitar solos, and reverberating drums. Fans of classic rock will love this project, although there’s a little something in it for everybody.
From the get-go, JShell throws down the gauntlet on the opening track, “Crawl.” Daring you to get on his level, JShell immediately sets an ecstatic tone for “In My Head,” belting out lyrics like “You think I'm too intense / That’s because you got no common sense” before suggesting “Why don't you just make amends / and crawl out of the room.”
Loud, boisterous, and simply fun, “Crawl” sets a high bar for the rest of the album. JShell easily achieves this, but it’s interesting how he does it in multiple ways. “Big Apple Boogie” and “Big Apple Boogie Reprise” see JShell breaking it down. Although both tracks are sparse in lyrics, they see guitars, drums, and even trumpets take on their own lives, working in perfect chaotic harmony to build towards some impossible goal and conclusion only JShell can see.
“Haunted,” a standout on what is already a strong album, sees things turn spooky with a sample of Bach’s iconic “Toccata and Fuge in D minor” before breaking into song and irresistibly catchy lyrics like “And then I make my way back home / for a thousand miles / all I wanted was a smile” that will have you singing along before you know it. JShell doesn’t do it all alone; he enlists names like Steve Hackett of Genesis (on “You Do You”) and Katie Jacoby of The Who’s Orchestra (on “Meant to Be” and “That’s the Key”), among others. Still, the project is firmly driven by JShell’s genius, even as he works in perfect harmony with his peers.
By the time the album begins to wind to a close, the titular “In My Head” feels like the beginning of what is a perfect send-off. In all of its marvelous chaos, lyrics like “And in my head, I'm already living my dream / and in my head Im undead and trying not to scream” herald the beginning of the end before lines like “I know my life is meant to be” restore some order and harmony. His work done, JShell knows he’s given it his all as he winds it down on “My Last Request” with lyrics like “ no matter if you're happy or sad / I gave it everything that I had” before rocking you out on last time the marvelously chaotic “Big Apple Boogie Reprise.”
JShell’s “In My Head” is a wonderfully chaotic tribute to good old-fashioned classic rock that feels nostalgic and fresh. It’s more than music; it feels like the reflection of the soul of an artist who has poured his heart out into every track and has given it everything he’s got.
Welcome to BuzzMusic JShell! We have to say we loved “You Do You.” It felt nostalgic in all the right ways, and you and Steve absolutely killed it. We have to ask, what was the inspiration behind “You Do You,” and how did you know you wanted Steve on this track in particular?
Thank you, and yes, I agree; Steve killed it. The song is one of a few tracks on the album about a relationship ending and the participants going their separate ways, which I'm guessing most people have experience with. Most of the album is high-energy rock, so I was looking to do a melancholy thing to balance it out that would incorporate sounds reminiscent of '70s prog rock, especially those of my favorite band Genesis. I had given Steve - who I have come to know as one of the nicest and most gracious people I have ever met - a choice of a few tracks to do his thing, and he chose You Do You, which led me to embrace the prog-rock sounds on the track.
So your audio-visual album “In My Head” drops on February 14th (was that intentional?). How does it feel seeing this project come to life, and what was your favorite part about making it come to life?
It was not intentional, but I did want to release it in the early months of the year when people, in theory, have more time to pay attention after the holidays. Seeing this project come to life feels like I built a house. It's incredibly gratifying as it's the most work I have ever done on anything, and it took a lot of time. In addition to having made it to the end of a journey where I had to put one foot in front of the other and believe it would get done, my favorite part about making In My Head is a combination of having people very close to me be a part of the project and believing that I did my father, who passed away in 2015, proud.
So you’re based in New York, which has a rich musical history. How has the city influenced your growth and identity as an artist?
I cannot emphasize enough the effect living in New York has had on my growth and identity as an artist. For example, I have two instrumentals on the album, "Big Apple Boogie" and "Big Apple Boogie (Reprise)." With these tracks, I wanted to convey the energy I feel while walking around New York City. Also, when you live in New York City, there is sensory overload everywhere you go, so you have to stay sharp, and as a result, my mind is constantly working. This was extremely helpful as walking to and from the studio from where I live. I would continuously get musical and lyrical ideas, including the album title!
What kind of message or feeling do you want fans to take away from your music?
Simply put, I want fans to know that the music I am putting out is never dull. It's high energy with a lot going on, and I'm hoping fans can appreciate that there isn't a single note or beat wasted. Everything you hear is designed to give you a kick in your step.
What’s next for JShell? Having your album rollout is vast. Are there any other goals you want to achieve in 2023?
I want what everyone wants: fortune and glory! But the main goal is I want the album to do well enough, so it makes sense to do another.