You know something that bugs me about living in Australia? We have many, many great bands but not nearly enough troubadours. Going out on your lonesome, writing songs and then getting on stage and playing them bare bones style just doesn’t seem to be the done thing. More often than not, it feels like everyone wants to be in a band. Which is fine. But sometimes I get a craving for something a little more raw. Which is why I am a big fan of this week’s Mid-week Mixtape contributor Johnny Took.
I first came across Johnny when his demo cd arrived at FBi in early 2010. Back then, I’d just started hosting In The Pines and was thrilled to hear such a young voice singing such old school heartache. And now I’m equally thrilled to say that some twelve months on he has released Built For Destruction, a five track e.p. that shows off his lovely voice, tender lyrics and mature approach to songwriting. You can check out some of the tracks from here. In the meantime, check out some of Johnny’s influences below.
Little River – Tallest Man On Earth
I think this guy is great. He records his music by himself in a log cabin in Sweden. This song like all his recordings have great guitar tunings, clever lyrics, simple but cohesive chord changes, a unique voice and is an amazing guitar player. I picked this song in particular because of the melodic hook in the chorus. I could put this song on repeat for a long time because I hear something new every time I hear it.
Long Time Coming – Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen played this with just an acoustic guitar in an interview in his apartment which came with the CD. It’s off his 2005 album Devils and Dust which consists of real simple songs with great stories. I love that with his age his songwriting keeps getting better.
Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key – Billy Bragg, Wilco & Natalie Merchant
This whole Mermaid Avenue sessions album were based on Woody Guthrie lyrics that were found by his daughter Nora Guthrie. They were gives to Bragg and Wilco to write music and record with. Great lyrics, great harmonies, awesome fiddle and I love the tone of Billy Bragg’s voice…
Tennessee Blues – Steve Earle
Steve Earle released his first album in 1986 and hasn’t really stopped since. ‘Tennessee Blues’ was the opening track on his 2007 Washington Square Serenade album. Mix of drum machine, country picking and good lyrics and melody and still writing good songs 12 albums in and 57 years old!
Hi-Fi – M. Ward
Over the last few years I have been discovering more and more great albums by M. Ward as well as records that he’s been producing with other groups such as She and Him and Monsters of Folk. This track has some great production aspects, lyrics and melody in all its simplicity.