The Sound Cafe
Freedy Johnston Releases New Video Illustrated by Aimee Mann
By Pati deVries.
Freedy Johnston's new album, Back on the Road to You, is out and burning up the airwaves. The new video for 'Darlin', a poignant, heartbreaker of a song, made up of illustrations created by Aimee Mann, who also sings on the track. While the track's lyrics hint toward a profound loss underlying its charming melodies, Mann's drawings evoke tragedy and resilient hope, encapsulating the track's themes in a moving story.
Of the video, Johnston states, "Aimee Mann is just awesome. First, she sang with me on Darlin', and then she did a series of drawings interpreting the sad little song, which were edited into a video and greatly added to the story. The beautiful video they made is too much for me to watch without shedding tears. The drawings are beautiful. They're what I imagine when I think about the song now. Aimee is a great artist, and I love her." And Mann stated, "I've always loved Freedy's voice and songwriting. There's something so matter-of-fact yet plaintive about his records, and that combination is incredibly compelling. I'm happy he has a new record and am even more delighted to be singing on it."
Released by 40 Below Records, this collection of gems is steeped in wit, humour, pathos, love, and friendship, drenched with memorable, infectious melodies. Johnston recorded the album in Los Angeles with producer Eric Corne (John Mayall, Sam Morrow.) In addition to Aimee Mann joining Johnston in the studio were Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, and long-time collaborator, Susan Cowsill, along with an all-star roots music band, including Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams), Dusty Wakeman (Jim Lauderdale), Dave Raven (Shelby Lynn) and Sasha Smith (Priscilla Ahn).
Freedy Johnston has taken an unpredictable path throughout his 30-year career. He has a wicked gift for turning a melodic phrase with equal parts' heart on his sleeve, troubadour and weaver of mysteries. In 1994 Rolling Stone named Johnston the Songwriter of the Year, describing him as "A master storyteller, (who) sketches out full-blown tragedies in a few taut poetic lines." Adding, "He joins that elite cadre of songwriters—Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Elvis Costello—whose brilliant pop compositions turn magical with the addition of a defiantly idiosyncratic singing voice." The Kinsley, Kansas native released his first two records with the widely respected indie label Bar/None. Can You Fly made many 'Best of the Year lists, including, The New York Times, Billboard, and Spin Magazine, to name a few. Robert Christgau for the VillageVoice called it "a perfect album," Playboy declared it "the best album by a new male singer-songwriter in at least a decade."
Copious amounts of critical acclaim helped Johnston land a four-album major-label deal with Elektra Records. Butch Vig was enlisted to produce 1994's This Perfect World. The album opened with the hit "Bad Reputation" and included other standouts such as the title track and "Evie's Tears." It garnered more critical acclaim for Johnston, who recorded three additional records for Elektra, 1997's Never Home (produced by Danny Kortchmar), 1999's Blue Days Black Nights (produced by T Bone Burnett), and 2001's Right Between the Promises (produced by Cameron Greider).
Freedy has contributed music to films such as The Farrelly Brothers' cult classic Kingpin and Things to do in Denver When You're Dead, as well as Kicking and Screaming. A series of albums followed his Elektra output, 2006's Live at McCabes Guitar Shop and 2010's Rain on the City. In 2015 the self-funded Neon Repairman was released to critical raves from Stereogum, Paste, The New York Times, and Magnet.