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This Perfect World

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Album Review

Freedy Johnston's major-label debut is less consistently stunning than its predecessor, 1992's Can You Fly but, taken on its own terms, it affirms his position as one of the best songwriters of his generation. Certainly no one paints more evocative portraits of lonely, disappointed people. The majority of these 12 tracks are about men who either know or strongly suspect that they've done something unforgivable, and such is Johnston's mastery as a lyricist that it's even subtly apparent when his narrators are lying to themselves. Johnston frames his bleak narratives with melodic, chiming folk-rock; if anything, the predominantly mid-tempo songs and radio-ready Butch Vig production are a little too smooth, robbing This Perfect World of the edge that made Can You Fly so piercing. The most memorable tracks are the sparsest ones, where Johnston's words and appealingly plain voice take center stage. In addition to the melancholy opener, "Bad Reputation," other highlights include "Can't Shake This Town" and the witty "Dolores" — few songwriters could pack so many Lolita allusions into three minutes of guitar pop without sounding too clever by half. Best of all is the mournful, eerie title track, which describes the possibly mortal sins of one man's past and the hopelessness of his future with the economy and punch of a good short story.

Customer Reviews

Best Album by Freedy

Like many of the artists that I like to listen to, their best work came early. "This Perfect World" has been a longtime favorite of mine, and for me, Freedy's work after this album could never compare to this. In most cases, I assume that these artists allowed their success to enable them to grow musically and write and play what they wanted. Unfortunately, it's not always what people want to hear, but I respect any musician that follows their heart and creates the music they want to make. With that being said, if you're going to own a Freedy Johnston album, this is the one to own.

Oldie but Goodie?

One of the first albums I bought via an online music catalog after hearing snippets and reading reviews in 1995 ... I enjoyed the music the first couple of times, then relegated the CD to the back of the closet. Just dug it out and enjoyed it once again. Now back to the closet for another decade... that's just how OK it is... nothing special.


This Perfect World is timeless. It sounds as good today as it did when I first heard it. Bad Reputation was the first song I heard on the radio and opens the album. I thought who is this guy? I need to hear more. I picked up the CD and was not disappointed. The title track is excellent and the songs all grow on you with each listen.


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
This Perfect World, Freedy Johnston
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Customer Ratings