Let's get one thing out of the way before the hyperbole risks clouding the matter or ringing redundant: Jude Johnstone's 'On A Good Day' conjures hope that it is possible for adult-themed music to be a substantive, emotionally rewarding experience that can subsequently reverse the trend of adult-oriented radio (AOR) being strictly the dust bin of aging divas and front-men croaking out American standards.
Having written for Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks and Trisha Yearwood, Johnstone struck out on her own in 2002 with the luminous Coming Of Age. On A Good Day takes the luminosity and shines it generously on us all.
Any disc dawning with the plaintive "On a good day / In the morning light / When all the wreckage / Is out of sight" shows promise early and delivers instantly. 20 Years, the very next song, is the killer for me. On an uncluttered, subtlety insistent piano-led melody, a twenty year relationship has gone from "The memory of the way he praised the ground she walked upon" to "Go ahead and take the kids / I'll see 'em twice a year." Face it, you nor I are going to find such succinct songwriting on 99.999% of what litters the AOR landscape.
Even with a misplaced sax solo, you won't find Hard Lessons ("I'm gonna be that person / I've always wanted to be / One part wisdom / One part dignity") anyplace else but here. You also won't stumble upon Hold On; Evelyn; Deep Water and In This House where "The morning comes / but not the light". Musically, Johnstone and her main cohorts - co-producer / guitarist / husband Charles Duncan and bassist Kevin McCormick revisit Jackson Browne's (who guests on three tracks) darkly hopeful California pathos with a clear voiced, folk-based sensibility.
On A Good Day is one of those rare recordings that a community (or as the moguls would denigrate as a demographic) can rally behind, like we used to, when the music really mattered.
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