Link to Living Tradition Homepage





ROBB JOHNSON - My Best Regards

ROBB JOHNSON - My Best Regards
Irregular Records IRR100

A new Robb Johnson CD is always a delight. We know what to expect – finely crafted, articulate, committed, economical songs, expertly performed – and he never disappoints. This is an album of well-judged contrasts: take, for example, the first two tracks: September 1939 starts a cappella before introducing a spare understated backing for a song where anger is tempered with tenderness; in contrast, A Hollingdean Lullaby is a driving rock-inspired track which rages along, twisting and turning back on itself before tying up the loose ends with a sly nod to punk.

In case you might think Robb’s played his strong cards first, he delivers powerful song after powerful song: the heartfelt When The Tide Comes In; the evocative Sidmouth Promenade; the almost mystical The Mystery Beat; Suzie’s Party, which makes you realise the quality of what might have been produced had Pete Atkin collaborated with John Betjeman.

Every song makes you think – about big issues and their significance; about the preciousness of normal everyday things; about memories; about the past; about our future. Finely crafted and impeccably observed, every song entertains. The message never gets in the way of the music, nor, indeed, vice versa. And, as always, there are startling phrases which pull you up short with their stark simplicity (“my song met Elvis Presley, Down the bus stop by the Co-op”).

As if to consolidate the sense of contrast, after the 13 tracks of the CD conclude, there are three bonus tracks, each a reimagining of songs we’ve already heard, two with The Hullabaloo Quire and an aching reinterpretation of When The Tide Comes In with Reem Kelani.

His best album yet? I would say so.

Nigel Schofield

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.