CD REVIEW: Sean Johnson - Fairy Tales for Fools
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/25/2013 - 12:11 PM EST
Artist: Sean Johnson
Album: Fairy Tales for Fools
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: A mix of country, pop, & adult contemporary
Sounds Like: Classic Rock, Americana, Folk, Singer/Songwriter
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 6/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: Live to Love You, Diamond in the Coal
Weakness: Mix, Production Value, Marketability, Repetitive Catalog
Fairy Tales for Fools. Music influences include: Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Matt Nathanson.
The CD kicks off with “Waiting for You” an slow moving heartfelt ditty that serves up steady rock beat reminiscent of vintage Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan complete with a rockabilly type guitars, soothing melodies and well placed harmonies. Track 2 “Lonely Girl” serves up rock steady rhythm, timeless Americana groove and impressive melodic ambience. Track 3 “Purdy Road” keeps things moving with its methodical musical build, heart felt vocals and grand slam chorus that flows and ebbs it’s way through to emotional fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and even R.E.M. The actual musical format is very intimate, up close: a personal snapshot of the artist. The songs themselves are very naked and personal with messages revealing the highs and lows of life, love, passion and do I dare say life’s observations. Overall the catalogue is upbeat, methodical, providing a brilliant perspective on life. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice brief splashes of Americana-Folk-Rock overtones, Harmonica, well placed rhythm and solo guitar and lush harmonies all built upon an impressive rhythmic foundation. Lyrical content is extremely revealing and thought provoking. All songs cut deep to the core and its obvious Johnson is also a very capable songwriter. From stoic “Wake Me” to passionate “Call Me” to heartfelt “Live to Love You” to striking “Diamond in the Coal” to hypnotic “Blue World” to rocking “All Your Love” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 10 “Jamie” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s fair to say Johnson’s widely spaced vibrato and repetitive baritone will take its toll on the listener. This is also not the nest mix I’ve ever heard. At the end of the overall production value comes across as a bit dated, lacking dynamics and modern-day flair. It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix, and master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall sound cannot be overstated. If this was 1980 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2013, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like Johnson. It’s safe to say the catalogue is a bit repetitive as well. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD’s overall marketability.
Sean Johnson will work it’s magic on days you want a delicate, melancholy, honest and pure acoustic sound to fill your atmosphere. Its strong suit is it’s overall consistency, lyrical wisdom and bold passion and straightforwardness. Make no bones about it folks; it took raw courage and honesty to write and perform these songs. What I like most about Johnson is there is no attempt to hide how he feels, or sugarcoat the truth. I really admire artists out there who are themselves and just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that has the courage to show us something real and genuine beneath their veil of vanity. Sean Johnson is one of those artists.
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