Justin Magnaye certainly has evolved since I first heard him as an impressive 15 year old singer-songwriter on his EP “Strings Attached”. Born in the Philippines and migrated to New Jersey, USA when he was about two years old, Justin learned to play the guitar and the piano by the time he was 12. Hs latest album, “Closure”, which is also his second, is a great example of a record with a lot of maturity and continues Justin’s willingness to open his heart and soul, as he narrates a personal scrutiny relationships, love, loss, longing, hope and finally happiness. Justin has always known his way around a song, but as his music has evolved, he’s made a knack of crafting exactly what resonates with people.
Justin may present himself as the regular singer-songwriter, but he has clearly focused and honed his craft. Every single track on “Closure” has a strong hook, a nagging melody, something that makes it stick in your head.
It’s rare to hear a song for the first time and feel like it instantly lodges in your mind but on this record, Justin somehow repeats that magic formula on 12 separate occasions, set in notably different soundscapes.
Whether it’s the raw intimate, acoustic-guitar and voice combination, of the album opener, “Intro To Truth”, the edgy urban swagger of “Twenty Five, Eight”, or the piano driven ballad “Floating Feathers” with its layered harmonies, Justin Magnaye is equally impressive.
The one thing I love about this album though, is how Justin manages to provide every type of music he can make into this recording – be it the funky pop inflections of “EQ”, the strikingly intense R&B of “Never Did You Wrong” – where Justin flexes his stunning vocal cords in a captivating way – or the rap flavored bars of “All Time Low” ft. Lukæs and produced by Luke Basham.
The soul infused “Immolation” ft. Bri Dorso, is yet another track that showcases Justin’s vocal register as slides into a silky falsetto. And when he needs to, Justin can break the language barrier and snap into explicit mode, as he does on “Bullet Holes”.
All throughout the recording, Justin’s everyman persona shines through, meaning a situation that 99.9% of us will nearly come close to experiencing somehow becomes quotidian and relatable. So many of us have lived the fragile emotional states of “Denial” and “Intermission to Our Existence”, which Justin so vividly and achingly sets to words and music.
Justin is at his utmost impressive when he surrounds his voice with the least amount of distractions possible, allowing his gentle tones and nuances to deeply penetrate the soul. He has a sincerity that is very refreshing as he details his romantic entanglements to great effect.
“Closure” is packed full of tunes that have an undeniable quality and marks the point where Justin Magnaye’s talent and heartfelt authenticity reaches stratospheric levels.
The music and storytelling are outstanding, while Justin continuously blends artistry and his proven technical ability with a range of undeniably passionate tracks. Ultimately, the album’s emotional depth inspires the resonating aural experience it invokes.