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Rain On the City

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iTunes Review

Eight years since his last album of self-penned originals, 2010’s Rain On the City finds singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston completely recharged. “Lonely Penny” begins things with a modest quiet, a gentle introduction to ease Johnston back into the spotlight. With “Don’t Fall In Love With a Lonely Girl,” Johnston is back to full power: guitars jangling, vocals driving through the emotional angst. Tunes such as “The Other Side of Love” and “The Devil Raises His Own” (with the most perfect trumpet) recall the Johnston of old from Can You Fly? and This Perfect World, strong on mid-tempo rockers written with great self-reflection and an eye towards the succinct punch of the short story. The pacing of mid-tempos and ballads allow both to shine. “It’s Gonna Come Back to You” evokes the earnest bounce of Buddy Holly. “Livin’ Too Close to the Rio Grande” also bounces while “Central Station” and “The Kind of Love We’re In” groove in place with Johnston’s heartland vocals cementing the forlorn emotions with convincing consistency. It’s about time.

Customer Reviews

Inviting, open-ended album of loss, loneliness and meandering hope

Freedy Johnston opens his new album, his first new material since 2001’s Right Between the Promises, with a ukulele strum and a lyric that searches optimistically for answers. The quality of his voice against the stripped-down arrangement highlights the arresting, bell-like clarity of his tone, and the lyric playfully strides between a literal ode to a found coin and a metaphorical hand outstretched to a lost girl. Producer Richard McLaurin leavens the ukulele’s chipper tone with more quizzical and unsure dashes of lap steel and Hammond B3. The arrangement’s subtlety is a perfect balance to the lyrics’ provocative queries. The same vocal quality cuts through the electric arrangement of “Venus is Her Name” as Johnston hits and holds piercing country-tinged notes. Johnston has returned to the character and scene studies that attracted fans to his earliest works. “Rain on the City” animates rain as a character and evokes the painterly way that Paul Simon projected human emotion on observed imagery, and the tearful goodbye of “Central Station” couches its discomfort in keen observations of worn station details substituting for eye contact. The album isn’t all texture and mood, however, as Johnston writes lyrics of romantic strife and McLaurin happily indulges the songwriter’s need to rock. The power-chords and strings of “Don’t Fall in Love with a Lonely Girl” may remind you of power-pop artists like Adam Schmitt or the Smithereens, and Johnston sings with open-throated abandon on “Livin’ Too Close to the Rio Grande” as the band bashes and twangs. Stretching out, the baion beat of “The Other Side of Love” signals the sort of heartbreak common to early ‘60s productions by Leiber & Stoller and Phil Spector, but here it’s dressed in rootsier instrumentation; “The Kind of Love We’re In” floats along on a gentle bossa nova rhythm. The closing “What You Cannot See, You Cannot Fight” suggests a father’s entreaty to a son deeply troubled by his mother’s passing, but Johnston’s lyrics are sufficiently open-ended to leave room for personal interpretation. The album’s catchy melodies ease you aboard, and the rich threads of loss, loneliness and meandering hope invite you to make these songs you own. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

Worth the wait

We have been waiting for new Freedy for far too long. Let's hope the follow-up comes much quicker. Don't Fall In Love...may be the best song he's written!


his beautiful voice has grown even richer. songwriting is great as expected and tinged w/ alt country vibes. looking forward to hearing him in concert!


Born: 1961 in Kinsley, KS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A gifted songwriter whose lyrics paint sometimes witty, often poignant portraits of characters often unaware of how their lives have gone wrong, Freedy Johnston seemingly appeared out of nowhere in the early '90s and quickly established himself as one of the most acclaimed new singer/songwriters of the day. Johnston was born in 1961 in Kinsley, Kansas, a small town with the odd distinction of being equidistant between New York City and San Francisco. Growing up, Johnston developed a strong interest...
Full Bio
Rain On the City, Freedy Johnston
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