I wrote about how JR Richards ended up on my review list Monday, and it is something the predisposes me kindly toward him. The way music helps us connect to each other is important to me, and as the creator of multiple songs that have touched others and led to common ground, Richards has earned some kindness.
Although it is clear from some searching that there has been other music made over the past decade, most of my time listening has been spent on the 2015 album Honore et Amore.
Richards has a good voice, and is able to lend depth and emotion to his words. Fans of his previous band should enjoy Honore et Amore. While it may be the sound of someone older, and someone doing solo work instead of being in a band, it is not a jarring disruption. There is a similar softness and soul to the work. "Walls" and "The Hope for Better Days (Cold War)" are probably my two favorite tracks from the album.
The biggest flaw is that there is not a lot of differentiation between the tracks. The song that branches out the most is "Come to Tears". "Gorgeous" and "Mortals" sound the most similar, though the lyrics focus on different themes. For this reason the album does not feel very challenging. That was probably never the intent.
It is very comfortable. That's not automatically bad, though I can't help but think that some period of prolonged discomfort - learning a new and different instrument or maybe even working on a concept album - could take Richards to new heights.
But that's focusing on what the album isn't. The album is fine, with feelings of longing and amazement and connection, all of which are valuable. I do think there is the potential for more.