A Review of the Johnsmith CD
"Break Me Open"

"Break Me Open"
by Johnsmith

Copyright 2006
Blue Pine Productions

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/06
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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If Johnsmith's music doesn't compel you to conduct a personal inventory, then consider yourself among the living dead. Although always inviting and comfortably presented, his songs traverse the no-go zone of many individuals and couples--their sacred truths.

Now lest one get the impression that this is a collection of Barney the Dinosaur mouthings put to music, fear not. With no offense to T-Rex Barn, a level of maturity and experience is required to fully understand and appreciate the depth presented here.

Unlike most releases and as hoary and cliched as it sounds, there remarkably is no weak cut, or two or three, among the twelve offerings.

With a mesmerizing Weissenborn slide guitar opening, "Pothole Season" uses metaphor to compare the gaps and rough spots in our relationships with the holes and cracks in the physical roads we travel upon.

The genesis of "Cold, Cold Ground" was the death of Johnsmith's brother. The repetitive singing of the title words makes this song particularly engaging. One doesn't tire of hearing them again and again--in fact, the reiteration results in amping up the intensity of the song.

There is absolutely nothing lacking in Johnsmith's rendition of "Messy Thing," but here's predicting it will soon be added to the repertoire of some earthy chanteuse who will up the sensualness quotient.

"Barefoot in the Dew" opens with three lines of gentle comfort, with a jarring fourth:
"Oh, violets are violet and bluebirds are blue
Black is the night sky and white is the moon
Soft is the sound of a wood thrush at dawn
But hard like granite is the heart with no song..."
But the end is tender and amiable.

The compelling "Love's Not Through With Me" is made so by verses such as:
"...Can you love without needing
Lift it up as a silent prayer...

...Now I heard a voice from deep inside
Saying you're not blamed for love you tried
Oh, you may think that love takes two
But love's a gift from you to you..."
With lovely concertina and Irish whistle touches, "So Here's to You" appropriately closes out the release as it just may any Johnsmith concerts in the near future.

There is an abundance of standout instrumentation here. Touches of Weissenborn slide guitar, Irish whistle, fiddle, mandolin, bass and even accordian all provide compelling interludes and background throughout the various cuts.

Though relatively early in 2006, this release will rank as one of the top 10 CDs of the year.

Track List:

All songs by Johnsmith, unless as noted.

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