Record Review by Amber Henson
Would you like to be let in on one of the small miracles of life? It’s this: when you listen to a record for the first time in the proper place to listen to it. Perhaps it’s Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. while you’re jogging, or The Postal Service’s Let Go while driving up the coast with your best friends. Well, here’s a new one: Johnathan Rice’s Further North while in a coffeehouse on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Rice’s dulcet tones and powerful acoustic guitar make for a happy mix of sappy, sad songs, and upbeat, strong songs. Jenny Lewis does the vocals on over half the tracks on this record (man, she is like the vocal slut of the music industry) and her duet with Rice on track three, “End of the Affair,” is a lovely transition out of the first two tracks, which are a little quieter.
If you went and read through all my reviews on The Red Alert, you would see that I have mixed feelings about country. How can I possibly refuse a genre that practically invented the strong beat? Well, because that type of music has been poisoned by names I won’t stoop to mention - but I like Johnny Cash and that type of music and that type of acoustic guitar. And that’s what Rice seems to be up to here.
And if you really read all my reviews, you would also know that I’m a sucker for anyone who can actually pronounce their lyrics and let me in on what exactly they’re singing about. “Don’t you listen to me, baby, I’ve been bought and sold,” pretty much explains Rice’s (not uncommon with these type of albums) almost apologetic stance on life. That whole ‘I’m sorry I’m so much trouble, darling, thanks for stickin’ with me’ attitude that makes us ladies swoon when our guys realize how much trouble they’ve been.
Halfway through the album, Rice brings out the electric guitars and shows us that he knows how to rock, and periodically revisits that, but Rice does stripped-down blues too well to leave it for long. Come sit on my front porch, Johnathan, and tell me about the love that you lost.
More by this writer:
Sia - Some People Have Real Problems
The Thrills - Teenager
The Lovemakers - Misery Loves Company
Josh Rouse & Paz Suay - She's Spanish, I'm American