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Henry Johnson/Nancy Wilson: Organic

Franz A. Matzner By

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A soft endeavor, Organic may be a return to the basics (as the liner notes claim), but that return is a rather bland one which makes one question just which basics were being considered. A spattering of blues elements may surface here and there, and traces of '30s-era torch singing are in evidence, but the main source for the 14 tracks seems to be seventies and eighties TV theme songs and dentist chair Muzak.

Certainly, Henry Johnson can pick a guitar, and with the assistance of Peter Roothaan on saxophones, Greg Rockingham on drums, and Chris Foreman on Hammond B-3 organ, he manages to establish a consistent, well-smoothed feel throughout the album. So smooth, in fact, that whether playing a blues like “Blues for James and Dave,” a lament like “My Foolish Heart,” or the vocal duet “Hello Like Before,” everything seems devoid of the emotional peaks and valleys necessary to create variations in mood beyond the earnest positivism that invades much of Johnson’s singing and playing.

Guest vocalist Nancy Wilson contributes her brand of crooning to four tracks, including a bonus solo rendition of “If It’s The Last Thing I Do,” which furthers this overall mood. As a match for one another, Johnson's playing and Wilson’s singing blend well, though the result leaves something to be desired.

At best, this is an album of lulling, inoffensive tunes which would assist a firelight dinner date. At worst, it devolves into a tedious rehash of things we've all heard before.


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