Johnson's Crossroad "Mockingbird"
There are moments during this new album from Carolina’s Johnson’s Crossroad that you have to remind yourself that you’re actually listening to an acoustic band. That’s because on a number of great moments here, Johnson’s Crossroad rock so damn hard, often with a Stones-like swagger, that you almost don’t notice they’re not plugged in.
Their last album (2010’s ‘Blood in Black & White’) showed them as powerful poetic narrators of southern hard times, but ‘Mockingbird’ sees them ratchet everything up a gear. Excellent opener ‘Postcards to Peru’ has mandolins and dobro littered around its Ray Davies-esque melody, and its lazy rock rhythm. Johnson’s tale of compromise, inner strength and longing resonate with honesty and feeling.
The wonderfully swaggering blues of ‘Leave it to Me’ and ‘The Winds Gonna Blow’ show them at their most impressive and muscular, whilst ‘Better View of Heaven’ and ‘Storm Keeps Moving In’ sport a more straight-ahead country feel, whilst the closing lament of ‘Wait and See’ is reminiscent, and worthy, of a Tom Waits rumination.
Johnson has an intriguingly raw, gargling-with-iron-filings voice that laces everything he sings with honest grit. His narratives are reflective, resigned and always melodically interesting. With ‘Mockingbird’ Johnson’s Crossroad seem to have just proved themselves to be one of the finest Roots rockers around right now.