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Singer-songwriter, Jude Johnson is one those acts who defies categories, for her music crosses and merges genres as easily as one able to sit at the piano one moment and swing their legs round the next to play acoustic guitar (this is if you are capable of playing them). Not that Johnson performs on the latter, but the former, along with some work on organ. Her impassioned, thought provoking vignettes of life are not unlike those of Shawn Colvin in the fashion she keeps things tucked in behind the music to sound ‘cool’. In that she doesn't reveal everything, leaving a little for the listener to finalize.  


Johnson is into her third decade in the music business, her first brush came as a teenager sitting in (at the invitation of Clarence Clemmons) to the recording of Bruce Springsteen’s album, The River. Jude already had some songs written and was soon picking up covers from Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood (numerous), Johnny Cash (‘Unchained’), Emmylou Harris, Stevie Nicks and Jennifer Warnes plus others. Plus she has sung on records by non other than Leonard Cohen. Not a bad resume to have. She sings good too on lending strains of jazz to go with her Americana pop Johnson records music that is best heard in relative quiet for its beauty to be appreciated fully. Better time doing so could not be spent.


Among the finest tracks I would, instantly, offer the battling tale ‘Who Could Ask For More’ and poignant piano / cello ode ‘Your Side Of The Bed’ (a song where she speaks of her love having left her and of hope her may one day return) plus  the full-bodied ‘Shatter’. Beautiful, artful and awash in subtle undertones and fiery, impassioned (Bonnie Raitt-ish) smouldering determination ‘When Does Love Get Easier’ (it doesn’t take a genius imagining the likes of Yearwood and a few more singing these, either, Colvin too) which contain some great sax (Mark Macisso) is a quality piece. Masterpiece status no less springs to mind. 

Not far behind, and arguably after a few listens up there with it there too is ‘Girl Afraid’ (a big song it gets even bigger once Paddy Keenan’s Uilleann pipes are introduced), there is a couple more mixed among the jazzy plied tracks which don't underline her songwriting talent in quite the same fashion tales of ‘Alcohol’, break-up and as on ‘Touchdown Jesus’ —the complete register is rolled out. 


                                                                     Maurice Hope       

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May 2018

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