Release Date: Jun 3, 2014
Record label: Three Crows Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Ethan JohnsThe Reckoning(Three Crows)3 1/2 out of 5 stars It’s switcheroo time as Ryan Adams handles the production chores for producer Ethan Johns, who has performed the same task for Adams, and many others, in the past. But, like Rick Rubin’s work with Johnny Cash, there isn’t much for Adams to do except hit the record button and get out of the way. Johns’ mellifluous voice, finger picked guitar and basic live to tape approach doesn’t require any bells and whistles to connect on an emotional level.
Past misdeeds redeemed Having released debut album If Not Now Then When last year appears to have given producer Ethan Johns a real taste for life as a performer. While that debut suffered somewhat by trying to be all things to all people, The Reckoning strips Johns’ craft to just about the bare bones. These are mostly acoustic storytelling songs of the oldfashioned variety.
That this is celebrated producer Ethan Johns’s second album suggests commitment to becoming an artist in his own right, and he was no doubt encouraged by good reviews for his 2012 debut, ‘If Not Now, Then When?’ There’s less to enjoy here. Produced by Ryan Adams, who Johns himself has produced (as well as Kings Of Leon, Laura Marling, Macca and Tom Jones), ‘The Reckoning’ is a mix of English folk (‘Go Slow’), dusty American ballads (‘Among The Sugar Pines’), blues (‘Talking Talking Blues’) and Bill Callahan-style singer-songwriter material (‘You Changed’). It’s lyrically weak, however, (sample: “The moon falls in your doorway”) and although there’s sparkle in the production, Johns reveals himself to be a far from charismatic singer.
With Ethan Johns’ second album, the big time producer has swapped hats with that of long-term collaborator and acoustic hero Ryan Adams, as he manages the harmonies and Adam’s takes the production helm. Having been instrumental in shaping hit albums for Laura Marling, Kings of Leon, The Vaccines and The Staves, Johns has traditionally been in the driving seat, but stepped from behind the studio desk last year with critically acclaimed debut album If Not Now Then When?. Now returning with a ten-track follow up, Johns proves his artistic merit extends just as far as his lengthy directional talents that have also included heritage artists such as Tom Jones and Paul McCartney.