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Jude Johnstone – Shatter

december 15th, 2019 at 18:33

www.judejohnstone.com

 

Beautiful shards.

The American singer-songwriter Jude Johnstone also remained relatively unknown in her home country for five consecutive CD’s. Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks and Trisha Yearwood, among others, recorded her songs and Johnstone sometimes scored an indirect hit that way.

Despite the obvious quality of her compositions and her voice, she never broke through with her own records to a large audience, although she could also be heard in various TV series.

Her sixth CD again implicitly asks why not, because Johnstone, once discovered by the now deceased E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, proves remarkably inspired on it.

She explores unexpectedly new terrain in eleven songs with influences from gospel, jazz, folk and funk in her characteristic melancholic, apparently autobiographical ballads. In it she sings convincing lyrics, but also creates a lot of subdued atmosphere, also with incidental co-composer David Ricketts.

Her theme remains that of loss versus desire, although in these songs she seems more explicit than before to take stock of a failed relationship in which alcohol and drugs also played their parts. That way Johnstone sounds not only inspired, but familiar too.

With the chorus of the optimistic closing track ‘Free man’, she unexpectedly misses the mark in the end, unless she wanted to prove to the world that reggae is not her genre. All the same, Shatter can stand the comparison with predecessors like Mr. Sun and A quiet girl effortlessly, because the other ten songs are just as many pearls to Johnstone’s crown.

 

***1/2

 

 

 

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