A Review of the Johnsmith CD
"Kickin' This Stone"

"Kickin' This Stone"
by Johnsmith

Copyright 2004
Produced by Lloyd Maines
Blue Pine Productions
Route 1
Trempealeau, WI 54661

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Johnsmith is not related to economist Adam Smith, is not the Smith of Smith-Corona, nor one of the Smith Brothers of cough drop fame. He is, luckily for us, an artist producing superb music out in America's Dairyland, Wisconsin. Getting better and better with each release, he is a master at starting out a song with a certain subject and then introducing and tieing in corollary themes. Plus, he writes and sings of what is truly important: the matters of the heart.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking but hold yourself in mid-gag for this isn't your father's (or mother's) mauldin, mawkish music. And here is the incontrovertible evidence:

In a song (Iris Blue) presented to his wife as an anniversary gift, he sings of their relationship, or any relationship of worth:

"...and could you send along a simple card
no bows or arrows or cupid hearts
something more real, more everyday
something that shows the work it takes..."

Of the different aspects of an artist's life and the ways one is pulled in "Time To Go Home," he sings:

"...sometimes I feel like a clown at the fair
juggling to keep all these balls in the air
there's one for the muse
and one for the road
and the most precious one I call home"

Maybe that one should be retitled "A Portrait of the Artist as a Mature Man."

Another terrific example is his comparison of an aging but functioning tree and a recently widowed elderly woman. Both still serve paramount and primary purposes. The despoiled tree provides housing for birds and an owl, shade and calm for humans, while the widow remains a source of strength to her adult children:

"anchored deep in the truth
holding on, wounded and hurt
but still reaching out for love
because that's what the heart does..."

His spoken song tribute to the late Dave Carter, "Friend Of The Coyote," succintly captures both the essence and writing style of Carter:

"...he was a whirlin', twirlin', dust devil swirlin' dervish..."

"Yea, he was a dreamer, a weaver, a flat out believer
in in the thread that binds the seam between us..."

In the title song, "Kickin' The Stone," he uses metaphor for the journey of life. For some, it is too often a labor of Sisyphus while others dance much more lightly towards the destination. Still, for most, it is a combination of the two.

"Don't Put Me In A Box" is a plea not to do what we are all too often guilty of: quickly categorizing people based upon surface impressions.

He closes the release with a spoken word rendition of the two-stanza Michael Coady poem, "There Are Also Musicians." In the interest of poetic justice, this majestic yet simple work would be butchered without printing it in its entirety--so it won't appear here. It amplifies on the Allison Krauss/Shawn Colvin line "if there were no music, I would not get through..." This is a wonderful choice for the concluding cut. It would be worth purchasing Johnsmith's latest for this piece alone.

Though still early in 2004, this one will rank as one of the top releases this year.

Track List:

All songs by Johnsmith, unless as noted.

Ownership, copyright and title of this folk music CD review belongs to me, Kevin McCarthy. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.

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