If you read the Jon Cummings interview with Freedy Johnston on Popdose yesterday, you know that Rain on the City (Bar None) is his first studio album in eight years. Where he’s been, and what he’s been doing is very well laid out in the interview, so I’m just going to talk about the music.
There is something distinctively comforting about the sound of Freedy Johnston’s voice. It provides a light when the lyrics take a turn down a dimly lit path. It is the perfect antidote to the cold and early dark of a January afternoon in the northeast. Musically, Johnston has crafted a well-made set of folk-rock songs that alternate between up tempo, radio-friendly tunes like “Don’t Fall In Love With A Lonely Girl,” “The Other Side of Life,” and the countrified “Livin’ Too Close To The Rio Grande,” with more acoustic, melodic songs like “The Devil Raises His Own, “Central Station,” and the title track. Rain On The City was recorded in Nashville, where it was nicely produced by Richard McLaurin, who has done excellent work of late with Justin Townes Earle, and Matthew Ryan, among others.
Some artists feel compelled to rush albums out in an effort to meet some artificially or corporately imposed deadline. These are often the same artists who give us 60 or 70 minute albums because they think that it’s important for us to hear their every utterance. There are very few artists who can keep my attention for that long. Others, like Freedy Johnston, would rather wait until they are ready to provide us with a fully-realized album, and even then they only give us their best tracks, without filler. It’s been a long wait, but Freedy Johnston’s return is a most welcome one.