On an album comprised mostly of well-known standards (save for one original composition), Chicago-based singer-songwriter Nhojj celebrates the growing acceptance of same-sex relationships in the United States and abroad. “I am deeply grateful,” he writes in the liners, “to be living in a time when an album celebrating same-gender love could be released and even applauded.”
The album opens with a pared-down version of “Over The Rainbow” done solely with the accompaniment of Marcelo Cardozo’s electric guitar. Nhojj’s vocal range resembles that of the late Michael Jackson–he has the ability to reach low notes but mostly sings using a higher register, approaching each song in a different way. On India.Arie’s “He Heals Me,” he takes more of an R&B approach, taking advantage of the full band behind him, while on tunes like the George & Ira Gershwin classic “Our Love Is Here To Stay” he sings with a quiet bossa-like sensibility. Nhojj also reinvents Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” going for a playful samba-tinged groove without missing out on any of the title’s double entendre.
The original “Waiting For You” is a heartfelt ballad that celebrates being in love and being loved back, and Nhojj sings every note wholeheartedly. He does the same with the Stevie Wonder title track (which Nhojj changed from “her” to “ him”) with an arrangement that blends gospel and neo-soul influences. Listen to this album with an open mind; it is a highly enjoyable musical work from an artist on the rise. (Ernest Barteldes)
“Made to Love Him: Celebrating Love”
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