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Johnsmith - Break Me Open

Break Me Open

Johnsmith

Blue Pine Productions
c/o Johnsmith
24721 2nd St
Trempealeau WI 54661
608.534.6656

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwart@bowdoin.edu)

There are days when nothing goes right - nothing looks right, or works right or feels right. On those days I like to slip a Johnsmith CD into the player in my car and get lost in the comfort of his rich, buttery tenor. Each of his recordings takes you on a journey, whether it is through the castles of Ireland, or the journey inward. And I'll gladly go wherever Johnsmith's music takes me.

Johnsmith's new recording, Break Me Open, takes us on a more personal journey. It explores life, love and death, but mostly the spirit — both within ourselves and in the natural forces at work outside ourselves.

The opening cut, Back to the Mystery, celebrates the power of the natural world. The great Native American artist Bill Miller provides both backing vocals and native flute here.

Cold Cold Ground addresses the loss of a loved one to a violent, early death. Darrell Scott on banjo and Tim O'Brien on mandolin also contribute lovely harmony vocals to this exceptional tune.

No one celebrates the simple beauty of nature better than Johnsmith. "Barefoot in the Dew" follows a pair of lovers on a walk from a valley to the ridge above:
Oh, a heart with no song's like a bird with no wings
Stuck on the ground, no reason to sing
So when darkness is fading and the birds sing anew
I'll come to your window and softly call you

Silver Creek takes us back to the joys of childhood with the simple pleasures of swimming in the local creek and finding that first love.

The title cut, Break Me Open, is a bluesy meditation on where inspiration comes from, and how to find it when you get stuck.

Let's face it - there is a lot of good, even great music out there, and only so much time to listen. It would be a mistake to pass up an opportunity to take in the music of the man with one name — Johnsmith. Break Me Open is a wonderful celebration of the seasons of nature. And all of the music comes wrapped in the warm, expressive tones of Johnsmith's vocals and guitar. All I can say is this — on a cold winter's night all I need is a hot cup of cocoa and a Johnsmith CD. I'm feeling better already.

Track List:

  • Back to the Mystery
  • Pothole Season
  • Honest Truth (Johnsmith & Julie Baker)
  • Cold Cold Ground
  • Messy Thing
  • Barefoot in the Dew
  • Silver Creek
  • Love's Not Through With Me (Darrell Scott)
  • Break Me Open
  • Box Elder (LJ Booth)
  • 21 Miles
  • So Here's to You (Alan Bell)
All songs by Johnsmith except where noted

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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