Ralph Boyd Johnson“17239 Street SW”
Mr. Boyd hails from north of the border, Canada, but to listen to his work one would think he was born and bred out of one of the southern states that he emulates in his writing, certainly his vocal approaches and pedal to the metal enjoyment to the art form of country music.
The production was recorded at Airway Studios in Calgary, Alberta and was produced by the artist and Danny Patton. The ten tunes all penned by Johnson are deep in the tradition of country with a bid of a nod to rockabilly and slightly leans towards the world of rock. The production values Johnson and Patton have arrived at are another nod to the time and reverence they hold with this music. I’ve said it before; there must be something in the water up yonder that gets DNA deep as this is another Canadian artist that has found his own footing in deep rooted soil.
Lyrically Johnson is spot on in the country tradition and weaves great stories as did the early country artists well he dips his cup and drinks long from. There is a sense that he found the spot where others were swilling a bit of beer for the poor old me side of his stories or historical side of life for the fun side of his tales. He has a very earthy feel to his work, at times he out countries, country music. Make no mistake, Johnson is a great mirror to the roots he is revealing to his audience and perhaps himself. I like the theatrical side of his work; he takes risks more than most in the arena of what is labeled country these days. In fact this might be the first country album I have heard in a long time.
There are some great players on this project as well as a great mix with mastering to be proud of.
Johnson’s rhythm section is comprised of Duris Maxwell on drums & Tim Williams and Glen Rowley on percussion, while John Hyde is behind them holding it down on bass. His pieces are augmented by
Kathy Cook on mandolin , Bill Oryniak on banjo, Cedric Blary adds wonderful textures and solos on clarinet and Bruce Lienen fills on the fiddle give an authenticity to the work.
This is a fun romp that is never boring, and illuminates how the deep south and it’s country music has infected the world. This is Johnson’s second release; it is filled with humor, reverence and glares in his appreciation of the art form he has mastered. The toe never stops tapping and he can make a listener laugh, think and tear up all in the breath of one tune, and there’s ten to enjoy.
[Christopher Brant Anderson]