By Grant Golden
November 13, 2019
For the past five years, Pat Junior has commanded attention in the North Carolina music scene. Serving as both a producer and an emcee, Pat has been carefully cultivating a vibe that bridges together sleek, streetwise aesthetics with introspective lyricism and rich melodies. Ranging from instrumental beat tapes to his full-length excursions, there’s always been a remarkable sonic growth in Pat Junior’s projects, but none as poignant as that of his latest release, I Thought I Knew.
I Thought I Knew is an odyssey through the mind of a man coming to terms with his imperfections and pitfalls, accepting his own failures and learning to fight through anxiety, depression and much more. Pat lays this out threadbare on the album’s opener, “I’ll Admit,” with plainly stated lines that peer into his psyche, serving as a confessional of sorts. “I’ll admit, I’m the strong friend that you should check on,” Pat spits atop a simplistic piano-riff looped throughout the song. He goes on to tackle his need for affirmation and his struggles with forgiveness, closing out the song with a declaration of how even sharing this much emotion is making him nervous. The vulnerability of “I’ll Admit” alone is reason enough to be impressed by I Thought I Knew, but this album is much more than a self-effacing therapy session.
The brilliance of this album lies in its pacing and overall trajectory, sure some tracks stand out more than others, but they’re all part of the larger journey. The first half of the album is a darker, grittier take on Pat’s life lessons, but “Better (Interlude)” brings a marked change in tone both thematically and sonically. Whereas opening moments lean more on fuzzy synths on the low end of the sonic spectrum, the album’s second half features a heavier focus on lighter key lines, guitar work and major-key R&B hooks. “Sunny weather, better days. Feel the weather, feel the change,” Pat croons, and just like that the horizon brightens and the listener is able to feel the lessons learned in the first half played out in real time.
I Thought I Knew serves as a testament to how fantastically talented Pat is in all aspects of his music; production, writing, timing, pacing, voice inflection, the list goes on. But through it all, one of Pat’s biggest strengths is how finely he’s able to tow the line between party-ready jaunts and inebriating moments of reflection. Tracks like “Like The Waves,” “SomeDays” and “Paranoia/The Healing” are brilliant examples of this dichotomy. Just because a track has trap-ready hi-hats blazing in the background doesn’t mean Pat won’t traverse topics like the struggle of saving sex for marriage or owning up to fluctuating mental health and mood swings. The opening lines of the album’s closer, “Conversations With My Pastor,” boasts “I’ve come a long way like a catapult” and it couldn’t be more apropos. Throughout the past several years Pat Junior has been gradually building momentum and bursting through every obstacle in his way, and with I Thought I Knew, he smashes through the traditional expectations of masculinity and lands on the other side with finesse and flair.
Riding the wave of this excellent new release, Pat Junior just released a video in collaboration with Torch House Media for album standout, “Like The Waves.” Check it out below and keep an eye out for upcoming Pat Junior shows in your area.