Recommended Tracks: “This Game”, “Take Me Where You Go”, “Cold Heart”
Artists You May Like: Christina Perri, Sarah Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson
When singer-songwriter CJ Temple sits down to make music, she strives to create more than just a cool track – she is all for setting up a cozy environment to which people can decompress and feel safe. Based on the one million followers CJ has on TikTok, it seems like this approach is working very well. Aside from her duets and solos that are thoroughly enjoyed on the popular platform, CJ has released several official singles that beautifully tap into her strengths as a musician, from the potency of her words to the soothing timbre of her voice. As CJ puts forth her debut effort, Smoke, fans get treated to even more of her incredible talent, along with the shelter her music provides.
Over the course of Smoke’s 11 tracks, CJ asks questions about previous relationships, and attempts to make peace with past mistakes. On the reflective “Something That Now I Know,” she tries to take back what has been done and wonders what else could have happened instead. She also tries to figure out how to move on, as we hear on “How Long,” where she sings, ““Now you want me to say / That I’m okay / Pretending like it never happened / Tell me, did it ever happen?” The devastation of what has happened really comes to a head on the bittersweet “I Am You, You Are Me,” where CJ claims, “When I gave you my heart / This wasn’t the way that it was supposed to be” and asks, “Did you forget that I am you and you are me?” These tracks give us insight into who CJ is as a person, even though they focus on someone else.
While CJ presents us with these heartbreaking songs, there are also times when she lets loose and throws down some sassy lines. On the vibrant “This Game,” CJ is ready to be real with someone instead of constantly playing games. Frankly, she sings, “You have nothing I can’t find in the next one I’m kissing,” letting this person know that it is time to step up. There is also the folk ballad “Looking Back Now,” where CJ sings, “Sometimes I wonder how difficult it must be / To wake up every morning knowing that you’ve gotta be you” and “Looking back now, I suppose I should be thanking you / For showing me exactly what love isn’t supposed to do.” Her delivery in these songs is so sweet that you almost have to wonder if she really did just “go there.”
Yet, CJ’s ability to “go there” and be open with her fans is what makes Smoke so endearing. On the sinister “Cold Heart,” she tries to reason with her heart’s actions, claiming that it is responsible for turning her life “inside out.” CJ also addresses her mental health on the piano-driven “Lost,” where she admits that she is always at battle with herself. The title track is almost an answer to “Lost,” with CJ finding closure on all that she has been through. Calmy, she sings, ““You ask me how it feels / To be out of the dark” and states, “It’s like seeing through the smoke.”
All in all, CJ has created a comfy oasis with her debut album. There is a perfect amount of music and lyrics throughout Smoke, with nothing being too over-the-top or underwhelming. Additionally, CJ’s delicate and engaging vocals complete the stories that she shares, each nuance adding life and meaning to what we hear. After listening to Smoke, life just seems a little less complicated.
You can listen to Smoke on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.