How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Palo Alto resident, Ed Johnson, brings his nylon stringed acoustic guitar and his highly attuned vocal and writing skills to his 6th CD release providing more than 50 minutes of Singer/Songwriter offerings. Like many of his contemporaries, Johnson seeks to attract another generation of listeners with music that blurs the line between jazz and pop as he delivers a program of 10 tunes in very stylized vocals. Johnson sings in a reflective, gentle but earnest manner - - earnest is the emotion of the moment on a very busy "Toda Mi Vida" - - reminding one of a young Willie Nelson at times such as on "Over That Wave". Also like his contemporaries, who never seem to leave home without them, he is joined by a rotating number of background singers, including a virtual choir of seven on "Vuélveme Esperanza". Some of the more telling tracks are those when Keith Bennett shows up with his mouth organ adding a soulful, bluesey sound to the proceedings. Unfortunately he appears on just three cuts "Lost in Leaving", "A Certain Smile" (the one recognizable tune on the set) and "Night Closes in". Relief from the cacophony comes with "A Certain Smile" where Johnson and his two singing helpers, become absolutely mellifluous. Other cuts of merit are "Freshet" and a rare jazzy "Night Closes In".
One of the redeeming values of this album is that the lyrics are reprinted in the liner notes. This is important because Johnson and his bevy of backgrounders are often drowned out by the clamor of electric basses, drums, various horns and his own guitar. This album will appeal to the Singer/Songwriter set. But jazz it ain't.
Track Listing: Diana; Toda Mi Vida; Lost in Leaving; Over That Wave; Vu
Personnel: Ed Johnson - Nylon String Acoustic Guitar/Vocals/Steel Guitar/Whistling; John Shifflett/Cary Black - Bass; Walter Bankovitch - Piano; Jason Lewis - Drums/Percussion; Tim Gutierrez - Percussion/Congas/Background Vocals; Kristen Strom - Flute/Soprano Sax; Jim Schneider - Tenor Sax/Piano; Kim Scanlon, Greg Scott, Lissy Abraham, Claudio Amaral - Background Vocals; Jennifer Scott - Piano/Background Vocals; John Reischman - Mandolin; Jovino Santos Neto - Piano; Mark Ivester - Drums; Keith Bennett - Harmonica; Ren