John John Brown has graced our ears for a second time with a set of profound renditions that delve deep into an authentic pool of heartfelt storytelling.
Released January 10th, the 7-track album zeroes in on the perspectives of seven unique characters, all of whom Brown has crossed paths with, that are featured on the album cover in a comic animation – hence the title, Americana Comics. A melting pot of humor, longing, satire, and hope, Brown invites us to explore the peculiar lives of individuals that, like us, don’t always have it easy but manage to persist despite life’s impending trials.
The journey begins with “On Black Friday I Met Jesus,” and the title alone prompts a most curious inspection. Set in a local Walmart, a schizophrenic spots Jesus amongst the people plaguing the aisles with their aggressive frenzy over material possessions. It’s a disappointing scene, as Jesus wishes for these “lost people” to open their eyes and hearts, and reflect on what really matters at the end of the day: meaningful relationships.
The mood is lifted and a steady beat is instilled in “Where the Good Buzz Goes,” where we take a look inside the mind of a Vietnam war veteran who moseys along, latching onto simple pleasures to keep him progressing towards that ‘good buzz.’ A mellow ode to the phrase, “It is what it is,” this track reminds us to remain in the present moment instead of dwelling on the past. Ironically, the following tune “Graduation Day” digs into our nostalgia whilst reminiscing on a past love that was lost too soon – but maybe not as tragically as this. Adorned with the romantic whine of country twang, this duet strives to remain optimistic about the future while treasuring the sweet memory of the good ol’ days.
“Mary” is a testament to those struggling to free the burden of heavy scars and the strain of the world in order to discover the peace of goodwill. Brown’s voice emits bittersweet tribulation, illustrating a longing for a satisfying existence that may never be attained. Once again, the tone flips as “Armadillo Song” playfully tells the story of finding a dead armadillo on the road, only to realize it wasn’t dead after all. Comical consequences ensue.
The last two tracks are ruminations dressed in differing contexts. “Yossi the Balloon Man” harps on the relationship between a son and his sick mother, equating a touch of joy with a dash of melancholy, trying to bear the weight of moving on. “Big Old Beard” interweaves Irish charm with the notion that our days are better lived when taken in stride and surrounded by those we love. Both songs concede to the enlightenment a lifetime provides.
Brown’s thoughtful songwriting creates a visual depth that actually has something to say, and it’s about time artists like this start taking the reigns of music. Accompanied by the gentle sweep of an electric guitar, an upright bass, a piano, and violins, a smile is impossible to suppress as the calming wash of each melody brings about a personality dedicated to the inner workings of the mortal soul. Endlessly poetic, Brown’s deep timbre mixed with a laidback resonance gifts us a country folk album flowing with innovative creativity.