Luckily, I'd just finished reviewing the Putumayo label's most recent addition to its Acoustic Dreamland series (here) and was well prepped to float off without losing too much wakefulness, else I might not've been prepared for the cloud of mellifluity issuing from Josh Johnston's The Shape of Things and fallen asleep at the keyboard, rustic smile wreathing haggard critic's visage. Big Dave at FAME Central then would've had to issue a squadron of his New Hampshire bumblebees speedily to SoCal to keep aesthete fires lit and the Sacred Transcontinental Crit Express open for its transcendentalist duties. And, heh!, he might never have seen them again either, as it's a hell of a lot warmer here, not far from Mexico, than the frozen North 40 he resides in. Oh, and I keep a dram or two of mead handy just in case any Bombus Apidae gents 'n ladies indeed come calling. Then, once sufficiently schnockered, I'd toss on Shape and have the stripy lil' buggers settling back into chaise lounges on my back patio for an extended stay, maybe even repatriation.
Josh Johnston's CD is a 13-cut selection of solo instrumental piano compositions lying chiefly in traditionalist halls but occasionally venturing into more spacious vistas. Nightsong 4 has Randy Newman-ish Americana filmic undertones leading into the ebony-scripted A Light in the Dark of the Night, an unthreatening tune calling the ides of midnight out to sit in silent reverie, Johnston's left-hand measures keeping the cut's slow processional fundamented as the slightly more exploratory right treads forth in a series of interconnecting glances. Guest, however, carries a very clear narrative, at first seemingly akin to a long-remembered laid-back wistful hit song never quite brought fully into reminiscence. Put this song on the MOR radio-waves, however, and the phones will light up, demanding title and artist name while wondering what the piece is so tantalizingly evocative of.
After a careful introduction, The Late Train becomes unexpectedly light and joyous, dancing to a cherished trysting memory, maybe an afternoon after school has let out, or perhaps a weekend fete with friends and neighbors, while the closer Saving a Life is wrought of delicate beauty, almost sighing as it draws the curtains on the entire disc. If you favor the kind of music John Diliberto writes so well of from wherever he's lately scribing when not remonstrating with me, then you'll dig this one quite a bit.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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