Roger Johnson – Stag Cotillion (AutieTunes)
Stag Cotillion, strange title I thought, what’s the album art giving away, it’s easy to jump to conclusions as I did – but this pair of albums from Roger Johnson turned out to be a wonderful surprise.
With the assistance of Google I put two and two together to get a rough idea of the meaning of the album’s title, in hindsight maybe I should have read the press release first.
a complex dance, consisting of picturesque or elaborate figures which feature the changing of partners and the giving of favors.
The album is in two volumes encompassing a total of 25 tracks and running at around a 100 minutes, thematically it’s a roller coaster ride taking on the ups and downs of relationships through the artists experiences growing from boy to man, in the days of single track downloads it’s a brave effort to release something of this breadth, does it work? In a word yes?
The tracks gel together as a complete work but equally there are many individually memorable songs on both volumes, Roger Johnson is possessed of a wonderfully rich and layered voice (echo’s of Roy Orbison) add to the mix some great harmonies and vocals from Emmaline Muchmore then put it together with some excellent song writing – sometimes subtle more often direct, a choice set of collaborative musicians and control over the production and the end result is one (sorry two) great albums, this is a real labour of love and deserving of attention as Johnson utilizes his decades of musical experience to good effect – he has worked and performed with Kim Richey, Rosie Flores, Adam Durwitz and David Lowry of Cracker amongst others.
Some highlights of the twenty five song collection, from Volume One, the mystery and allure of the older woman in Counterfeit Heart through to Jokers are Wild on Volume Two where the roles are reversed – the older man and his young muse, A Person of Interest a socio-political commentary that could have being lifted from a recent Rodney Crowell album, there’s classic country rock in Airstream, and humour français in Chateau Bimbeaux, throw in a cover a Hot Burrito #2 and close the opus out with a Bacharach/David composition The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, there is something for everyone over the two volumes.
Buy Stag Cotillion at CD Baby