Johanna Divine – Mile High Rodeo
Johanna Divine’s debut album, Mile High Rodeo, is an amazing adaptation of the comfortable sound of Southern music. It’s full of rich country and western sounds influenced by her home state of Tennessee and a Cajun nuance inspired by her current state of residence, Louisiana. The varied tempo and styles of song ranging from ballads to honky-tonk foot-stompers, Western swing and rockabilly are perfect vehicles for Johanna’s sultry vocals and outstanding songwriting.
With production assistance from master engineer and fiddle player, Dirk Powell, the record is heavily accented by a Cajun influence. Drawing from Southwest Louisiana’s Cajun roots bands like The Red Stick Ramblers and Balfa Toujours, the rich full band sound superbly supports Johanna’s warm and powerful voice creating songs that are as humid as a Louisiana summer night and as spicy as the local cuisine.
The album begins with a classic country track, “Done ‘em In,” recollecting the people and good times turned bad in a lonely bar room. Then, the fast and hard-driving country-rock of “Hijacked Again” gives way to “Been Gone Awhile” which has a unique sound that I can’t exactly put my finger on. It’s smoky tone has almost a bluesy vibe with a 60s pop-rock feel. The piano and fiddle driven “Lone Ranger” is a Western swing ballad, while Johanna gives a Patsy Cline-like performance on “Bright Side.” And, “A Little Class” has a sound reminiscent of a New Orleans dive bar while the piano bar ode “Lulu Saint Marie” tells the tale of a hard-drinkin’ yet lovable lady who is “more woman than you can handle, and more man than you’ll ever be.”
Mile High Rodeo is an eclectic and extraordinary example of the Southern music renaissance. Johanna’s amazing songwriting talent and vocals combined with the album’s toe-tapping and interesting blend of Americana plainly demonstrates that Johanna Divine is on the forefront of roots music.
–April Wolfe @ Common Folk Music