Formidable. Enigmatic. Genre-defying. Fragile. Ballsy. Ambiguous. Raw.
Mojo Juju has been called many things and yet she is forever hard to define. By her own explanation, Mojo has never felt comfortable with being categorized and is increasingly deliberate in avoiding labels and defying genres. As a result, it is only in experiencing her live shows that one can begin to understand the full breadth of this dynamic artist.
Her 2012 eponymous solo debut was an offering of lyrical blues and noir soundscapes. Her 2015 release ‘seeing red / feeling blue’ was a collaboration with Hip Hop producer ‘Ptero Stylus’ with strong throwbacks to Soul, R’n’B and Funk. Both albums were met with critical acclaim and industry accolades.
‘Native Tongue’ is a fitting title for the third studio album from Mojo Juju and it is her very essence laid bare. It is raw, honest, emotional and intrinsically political. It is also brutal and relentlessly real. Since cutting her teeth and making a name for herself on the Australian touring circuit in the late 2000s, Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga, a.k.a Mojo Juju, has been many things to many people. She’s been a troubadour, a soothsayer, a shapeshifter and a darn good songwriter. Now, after a decade honing the art of story-telling, she’s made the boldest move imaginable; she has decided to finally just be the story. ‘Native Tongue’ is exactly that; Through the telling of family history and her own personal experiences, Juju explores her relationships with Elders and Ancestry and how that informs her own identity. Contemplating her Mother’s Indigenous heritage, her Father’s experience as a Filipino immigrant and her own place in the cultural landscape of modern Australia, it is an album about self-discovery and it is her most sincere, heartfelt and personal offering to date.
Regardless of genre, whether solo or backed by a full band, it is evident that at the core of Mojo Juju’s songwriting is a raw emotional honesty. It is juxtaposed by a razor sharp wit and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and it is carried by her voice, which is often almighty powerful, sometimes heart-achingly vulnerable and always the centerpiece of her work.