September 6, 2012

you will be here, mine

Will Johnson makes smoky music that simmers understatedly, rewarding you for spending time sitting with it. The frontman for Centro-Matic / South San Gabriel, Will’s also made music these last few years with Monsters of Folk (with Conor Oberst, M. Ward, and Jim James) as well as that great Woody Guthrie album with Jay Farrar and Jim James earlier this year.

This opening track off Scorpion (his first solo record in eight years) wrestles exquisitely with “what to do with the golden beast of love,” but this song is not, as they say, a victory march. The first 90% of this song feels hesitant, and beautifully unsure. It grows slowly. There’s something in the emotional map of this song that feels like the end of a soul-sucking workday, when you come home and slip off your shoes and sit there in your stocking feet in a dark living room with a glass of something amber and alcoholic. It’s rife with doubt, and little flashes of bliss. It feels like a stumbling relationship. It’s only for the very, very last final measures of the song that finally all the pieces come together that have been missing colliding with each other for the whole song — finally, the rhythm clicks double time and the melody falls into that simple ladder step progression that’s so satisfying.

The whole song is a weary unfolding of fits and starts. That dopamine-rush of an ending makes me think it was worth it, for just a few measures. And then it’s over; unresolved. Damn you, Will Johnson, for leaving things as messy as our real lives.

You Will Be Here, Mine – Will Johnson

Scorpion is out on September 11, a self-release distributed through Thirty Tigers/Undertow Records (Avett Brothers, Dave Bazan, Joe Pug, Langhorne Slim).

You can listen to the entire album now over on his site. I honestly haven’t been able to get over this first track, so I haven’t even listened to the whole thing yet. One of these days I’ll stop wanting to click “play again” on Track 1. Not today.

Sept 11 – Waterloo Records in-store, Austin, TX
Sept 14 – Waverly, AL @ Living Room Show
Sept 15 – Birmingham, AL @ Living Room Show
Sept 16 – Atlanta, GA @ Living Room Show
Sept 17 – Athens, GA @ Living Room Show
Sept 18 – Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom
Sept 19 – Baltimore, MD @ Living Room Show
Sept 21 – Philadelphia @ Living Room Show
Sept 22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Living Room Show
Sept 23 – NYC @ Mercury Lounge
Sept 24 – Boston, MA @ Living Room Show
Sept 25 – Montpelier VT @ Living Room Show
Sept 26 – Buffalo, NY @ Living Room Show
Sept 27 – Cleveland, OH @ Living Room Show
Sept 28 – Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s
Sept 29 – Saint Louis @ Off Broadway
Oct 2 – Dallas, TX @ Texas Theatre
Oct 3 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
Oct 4 – Austin, TX @ Cactus Cafe

[image credit Matt Pence]

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  • This song is flat out gorgeous. It makes my heart ache in the best way.

    (The 9/18 NC area show is actually finally booked at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw, NC, for what it’s worth.)

    aggie — September 6, 2012 @ 9:50 am

  • updated. thanks, aggie!

    right around 2:51, where he offers up that line about the golden beast of love, and then that pregnant pause, so so filled with ache – it almost physically pains me to listen to. i don’t mind.

    browneheather — September 6, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  • Will Johnson is a genius. I had the great pleasure of promoting shows in Brighton, UK, for Centro-matic, South San Gabriel and Will solo, and he is a lovely guy to boot. Anyone reading this post by Heather who is not familiar with the man’s work, I can recommend pretty much everything he and his talented cohorts have released the last 20 years. As I say, a genius.

    David — September 7, 2012 @ 7:14 am

  • Of course he’s playing in Chicago the same night as The Avett Brothers and Justin Townes Earle.

    David Kolen — September 9, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

  • There really are some terrible concert overlaps this fall in the Windy City.

    David Kolen — September 9, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  • Good to a Denton lad do so well. Here is a song because it’s a beautiful day here in that very same town. Spell For Happiness by Brian Lambert

    Brian Lambert — September 11, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  • I am a” Johnny Come Lately” to the Will Johnson bandwagon. I saw him with Jay Farrar, Anders Parker and Yim Yames for their Woody Guthrie tour, becoming hooked that night. Not much that hasn’t been said here, but still, what a fine artist, singer and writer. Love the FUEL for sharing artists like this.

    Greg — September 22, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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