Review: ‘Cosmic Banjo’ – Michael Johnathon

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What Johnathon does with the banjo is quite unique and entrancing; Cosmic Banjo is a celebration of that. His own take on the Pete Seeger’s picking style transcends the limits of the long neck banjo.

The record is his 18th album and might well be his best to date. His vocals have often been likened to John Denver on past releases and you can see why with his melodic tones but the standout feature of this record is Johnathon’s arrangements.

The production of the title track is haunting and inventive in equal measure, a sense of mystery and theatricality about it. The Baghdad Breakdown fuses Jonathan’s western style with the sound of the middle east in what may seem like a musical juxtaposition, the effect is that of tension and suspense throughout the track, a sense of adventure permeates.

The live version of ‘How Can I Keep From Singing’ accompanied by a string quartet is full of sincerity and delicacy and is the highlight for me on this record. To conclude, this is a strong collection of songs from Johnathon, a brilliant yet surprising follow up to ‘The Painter’. 

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