Title - 'Holster Your Silver'
Artist - Brian Johannesen
For those not in the know, it's been a rough year for Chicago, Ill. native Brian Johannesen.
The same week he closed on his first house in Iowa City, IA, his mother-in-law went onto life support. Although she pulled through, her health steadily declined over the following months, leading to endless doctor appointments, hospital stays, rehab stints, and several months living with Brian and his wife.
All the while, Brian was trying to finish his second full-length solo album, the quite stunning Holster Your Silver. Sadly, last April, she passed away in that home where Brian's new music was to be heard coming to fruition.
Describing his music as “Midwestern, rustic, road-worn, introspective and restless,” if his late mother-in-law were to have heard any of the nine tracks in progress, she must assuredly have been smiling, for each track is embraced by a midwestern passion for all-things life, loved and lost.
Indeed, whilst some of the songs were written before any of this happened, they took on new meaning as he watched a loved one passing. Ergo, the album inherited a haunting tone, dealing with personal issues like anxiety, loss and a struggle to come to terms with an increasingly unjust political climate.
Furthermore, these themes manifested themselves in an honest, lyric-forward collection of songs that offers a glimpse into the mind of a songwriter coming to grips with the real word.
1. 'Somewhere Down The Line'
2. 'Copper Queen'
3. 'Tired (Last Time I Saw Her)'
4. 'Way Back Down There'
5. 'If I Thought That I Could Win'
6. 'Music Business Blues Breakdown'
7. 'Damn These Saints'
9. 'Holster Your Silver'
Sounding like an old school, mid-60s country album (much in the same vein as a Johnny Cash) combined with Springsteen's 'River' era, but now edged and driven forward by a modern day country vocal, Holster Your Silver (due out January 31st, 2020) is, without a shadow of a doubt, an album that doesn't beg to be heard, but moreover commands you unadulterated attention early on.
A troubadour himself, Johannesen's Americana music is firmly rooted the Midwest, albeit collecting tidbits of life from Iowa City by way of Nashville, of course.
Drawing inspiration from his heroes like John Prine, Guy Clark and the aforementioned Bruce Springsteen, he writes about everyday life with sincerity and sometimes even applies a little tongue in cheek notation.
Stand out tracks for me songs such as the captivatingly wearisome 'If I Thought That I Could Win,' the upbeat, anthemic hoedown vibe of 'Music Business Blues Breakdown,' and the title track, a most glorious ballad about unwavering whilst healing brings the album to a close.
With Holster Your Silver, which was produced by Ryan Joseph Anderson and recorded by Luke Tweedy at Flat Black Studios), Johannesen takes a mighty fine step forward, leaning into a craft he has worked at for over a decade.
The result is a songwriter finding his own voice that is powerful, delicate, artful, and accessible all at the very same time.
Amazon Digital Purchase Link