Johnson’s ‘Mod Americana’ opens with the intense undertones of Winter Kills. The six and a half minute ballad introduces us to Johnson’s detailed lyrics that perfectly sets the scene for his characters and their stories to come to life; ‘A glass of port with its ruby glow reflecting’. His voice is controlled, with great diction that allows the lyrics to be hammered home. The production throughout seems a little busy at times however it still serves each song well. The strings in that opening number are enchanting. From the intensity of Winter Kills to the chirpy, honky-tonk vibe of songs such as High or Low, which features some gorgeous backing vocals in the chorus; there are some really skilled musicians playing throughout. There is a good mix of humour on the record as well as more common themes of heart break but at the centre of it all is Johnson’s storytelling lyrics. I’d like to have heard a little more variation in the production, a stripped-back arrangement perhaps in a more vulnerable song, that gives a little room for Johnson’s lyrics and vocals to take centre stage. We hear a glimpse of this on Waiting For The Rain and it proves effective. On the whole ‘Mod Americana’ is lyrical masterclass backed by a talented band.
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Editor, Maverick Magazine
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