Friday, October 2, 2009

Review -- JOHNSMITH -- Gravity of Grace


This is one of those disks which purely confounds a reviewer. Johnsmith offers up music which is at times clearly folk. Then there are moments it seems country, and other times it comes across as soft rock. Yet in its diverse approach it really never completely fits any of the categories.
A die hard Nashville-country fan would not see Gravity of Grace as country-enough.
It's not pop/rock enough to find a home there either.
As far as folk, which has become something of a catch-all category these days, Johnsmith pushes the boundaries pretty hard.
So we turn to Johnsmith's website ( to see what he thinks of his own music. There it states “Above all else, Johnsmith is a Bard. The role of the Bard in every society is to hold up a mirror to that society, to convey and reveal - through the mysterious alchemy of music and words and performance – the secret inner language of the heart - delivered with that ineffable feeling called ‘Soul’.”
OK, it might be a bit over-stated on the website, but they are right, Johnsmith is a wonderful songwriter. He tells the stories of life, and with his comfortable voice, listeners are treated to an enjoyable experience as he shares those stories.
So what cuts work here?
Actually most of them, although while solid throughout, a couple stand above as truly memorable. Ring That Bell, a cut that has a hint of blues, and a strong folk lyric, with some rock heard in terms of music, is a nice blending of all that Johnsmith offers here.
Father's Day will be a huge hit on request shows at that time of year. It's a heart-strings tugger. The reference to a son and father talking baseball sold me on the song since I love the game.
Johnsmith does a nice rendition of Bob Dylan's The Times They are A-Changin' here too. I particularly like the addition of the tin whistle.
Jay Bird has an upbeat gospel feel, that is really an anthem for doing a better job of caring for our world. Nicely done.
This CD is solid, rock solid. Johnsmith is a craftsman in terms of songwriting, and comfortable and smooth in his performance. Definitely one for lovers of expanded folk.
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Sept. 23, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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