75. JOHNNY BEE ” American Tales” (2015)

Hey Johnny! (Pic: J.Belknap)

Hey Johnny! (Pic: J.Belknap)

I was given American Tales by my friend Lee – a mutual friend of Johnny Bee and myself. Knowing my eclectic tastes in music, he wondered if I’d like to write a review of it. Ever up for something new, I was certainly ready to give it a listen. I’d never heard of Johnny (aka Johnny Belknap) before, but I was intrigued, so I gave it a spin.

I may as well lift the words about Johnny’s background, and about his album from the sleeve notes…

‘Johnny Bee, a New York-born singer/songwriter now living in London, takes a proud look at his American roots with these tales of swamp voodoo, punk New York, brave soldiers, barefoot summers, subway love, no-hope bars, shootin’ Redcoats, families at war, a prayer for Dixie and the ever-hazardous pursuit of happiness’.

I didn’t know what to make of this album at first. Its certainly pretty unique. Its basically just Johnny’s voice and guitar – and eleven really interesting songs. Its a pot pourri of styles, blended into a uniquely  Bluesy, Rocky, Country, Punky, Folky, hybrid infusion. In true singer-song-writer style, JB has something to say – I’m not always clear what it is, but the songs are certainly very compelling; and seem to cover a variety of subjects: often to do with New York, and always very personal and meaningful. I found myself playing the album over and over for a couple of days in the car. They are songs that are at times amusing; at others, seemingly angry – and always sung in JB’s very singular style. I particularly liked ‘Dixie Paradise’; and found myself singing along to it! I imagine that Johnny is good to see playing live in the right kind of Acoustic / Folk club.

American Tales is available as a download from Bandcamp. The CD version comes in a standard Jewel Case with basic info and lyrics. I think its well worth a listen. PTMQ

Have a listen to Johnny on Bandcamp…


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