The Art of Saving Lives
Josh Johnston (Shandon Records) May 2018
Some artists make a debut that blitzes and fades, their best work coming with the passion of inexperience. Others do this: work steadily in their craft, gain the respect of peers; release recordings that build up a musical vocabulary; broaden their experience by diverse collaboration with like-minded artists. Then, when they’re ready, they deliver a gem.
Having already made three albums, ( Three Friends , 2001, Asylum Harbour , 2008 and The Shape of Things , 2010), on his fourth time out, Josh Johnston takes the helm with the proverbial flying colours. Josh’s own musical composition is complemented by partnerships with several song and lyric co-writers. The result is a rich, contemporary sound with reflective, well-crafted content that satisfies the listener with its intelligence and musical sophistication.
It’s not surprising that Josh is classically trained with a degree in music and has worked in musical direction, creating scores for performance in musicals and for choral works. His broad interest in music is complemented his extensive experience performing jazz, folk and rock with a variety of artists. The musicians on board for “The Art Of Saving Lives” are one and all superb artists with whom Josh has performed down the years.
The Art of Saving Lives is an album that grows quickly on the listener until its songs are on regular replay in one’s head, whether the gorgeous chords of “Midsummer With Anja”, with its wistful lyrics and aching soprano sax solo, or the smart, modern-angst reflections of “Scattered” about a dude who’s “crazy, and not in a good way”.
The lyrical unwinding of “Winged Revolution” is smooth, with a well-strung narrative and little sadness. The album has mystery, as with the splendid “Moon Landing”; love-infused idylls, like “Completely” and hope, found in the lush closing track of “The Allnighter”, which expresses the anticipation of love. Whether recounting the challenges or joys of relationships, or providing a haunting instrumental – “A Light In The Dark Of The Night”, the album delivers. Each listen will reveal another layer, another lyric, another musical touch (ears open for the flugelhorn, dobro, cello, violin, bozouki and pipe organ) that makes it one to remember.
The Art of Saving Lives is on release as of early May, and will be launched on 29t h June next in the Unitarian Church, Dublin. This is followed by a number of national gigs, details of which will be announced. You’ll find it on all major online music outlets, such as Spotify, iTunes, Googleplay and Apple Music, but to make it a little bit special, it’s also available in a limited edition vinyl format.
Words & Music by Josh Johnston & Stephen Joseph McArdle
Produced by Josh Johnston
Engineered by Eoin O’Brien, Michael Manning & Anthony Gibney
Mixed by Michael Manning
Mastered by David Montuy
Josh Johnston – Vocal, Piano & Synth
Eoin O’Brien – Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Baking Vocal, Synth
Adam Fleming & Paddy Groenland – Electric Guitar
Martin Gruet – Bass
Cormac Dunne – Drums & Percussion
Carol Keogh – Backing vocal
Aisling Bridgeman – Violin
Rory Pierce – Cello
Marco Francescangeli – Tenor and Soprano Saxophone
Bill Blacvkmore – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
(c) 2018 Shandon Records