Sometime during the summer of 1971, while traveling across The United States with some of my college buddies, I had my picture taken next to a sign in Kinsley, Kansas that proclaimed I was standing in the exact center of the country. Little did I realize at the time that somewhere in that small village of less than 2000 people, a ten year old Freedy Johnston was taking an early interest in music.
His big break arrived in the early nineties when he signed with the Elektra label and released the album This Perfect World which produced the Billboard Magazine chart hit “Bad Reputation.” This album and those that followed established a loyal fan base which has allowed him to continue to record and tour extensively.
He is now all grown up and Rain On The City is his 12th album release since 1990. It continues his development as a songwriter of note and accomplished vocalist. His well crafted lyrics deal with loss, love, and the perplexities of life.
He has assembled another set of thoughtful tunes in which his pop sensibilities just flow past the listeners’ ears and become ingrained within the mind. They are thinking persons lyrics that demand your attention and bare repeated listens to sort out their complexities.
He is never one to be pigeonholed with one style of song. “Don’t Fall In Love With A Lonely Girl” is straight ahead pop/rock while “Livin’ Too Close To The Rio Grande” goes in a country direction and features his fine guitar playing. The title song is a real production as strings and keyboard provides the foundation for his fine vocals. “Venus Is Her Name” goes in a different direction as his acoustic skills set up another excellent vocal performance.
The production is crisp and the vocal/instrumental mix is exact. He also includes the lyrics to his songs which are always appreciated and a good lesson for the thousands of singer/songwriters who fail to do so.
He is backed by a legion of musicians but of particular note is multi-instrumentalist Richard McLaurin who is at home on the acoustic guitar, lap and pedal steel, piano, accordion, and mandolin. Drummers Pete Abbott and Rich Malloy plus bass player David Santos lay down a good foundation for him to build his sound upon.
Freedy Johnston remains a true American troubadour. He is constantly on the road bringing his act to small clubs around The United States. Rain On The City continues his string of excellent releases and will hopefully gain him some mainstream notoriety.