Friday, April 19 2024

Picture this: you’re 59, a musical dreamer who never had the chance to strum a chord in a band or experience the thrill of a live gig. Yet, the desire to rekindle your passion for music persists. Enter McNeil Johnwood, the folk rock singer-songwriter from the soulful city of Memphis who has released his first two singles. The politically-charged ‘Scarecrow’ and the romantic love song ‘Magical’.

For Johnwood, music has been a sporadic companion. A self-taught guitarist since high school, he spent his mid-20s to early 30s crafting songs on a humble four-track. His songs reflecting the experiences of his life, entwined with threads of anguish and pain. These are more than mere tunes; they are Johnwood’s poignant response to battling fears and self-doubt, drawing inspiration from bands like Rush, REM, U2, and Elliot Smith to bare his soul.

Scarecrow,’ a politically charged anthem, takes direct aim at Donald Trump, using a fuzzy guitar intro, deep bass kicks, and haunting vocals to create an eerie ambiance. The song blends country with indie rock nuances. Adding a layer of complexity, the female backing vocals and hints of country with banjo riffs and acoustic guitar infusions keep the listener on their toes. Johnwood’s soft, beautiful voice dances with female harmonies, creating an ominous yet captivating atmosphere. Clocking in at over 5 minutes, ‘Scarecrow’ is a musical odyssey where every second reveals a new layer, culminating in a simple yet effective guitar solo that seamlessly bridges to the song’s conclusion.

In stark contrast, ‘Magical‘ emerges as a sweetly romantic narrative, recounting the moment Johnwood first laid eyes on his wife. This indie-folk gem begins with a delicate guitar melody and tender vocals, painting a vivid picture of a man serenading his beloved on a moonlit balcony. As drums and twanging guitars join the symphony, the song gains momentum without sacrificing its dreamy quality. The angelic female backing vocals add a layer of enchantment, turning ‘Magical’ into a captivating journey to a utopian world where joy reigns supreme.

‘Scarecrow’ and ‘Magical’ serve as poignant introductions to Johnwood’s distinctive brand of indie folk. Skillfully blending elements of country, indie rock, and heartfelt lyricism with his soft yet emotive voice, Johnwood creates an immersive experience. The intricate harmonies provided by the female vocals, coupled with Johnwood’s storytelling prowess, craft an atmosphere that captivates from the first beat. These singles not only showcase a unique musical identity but also underscore the enduring truth that age poses no barrier to making a resounding entry into the music arena.

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Review

Summary

At 59, McNeil Johnwood, a self-taught guitarist from Memphis, introduces his debut singles, ‘Scarecrow’ and ‘Magical,’ showcasing a unique blend of indie folk, with ‘Scarecrow’ delivering a politically charged anthem and ‘Magical’ a sweetly romantic narrative. The songs, based on Johnwood’s experiences in life, are masterfully crafted. It shows that age is no obstacle to making a captivating entry into the music scene.
83%

Rating

song quality
vocal performance
lyrics
instrumentation
production
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About Author

Gee Nelson

Gee Nelson has been a musician, producer and songwriter since the '90’s. Besides music Gee loves reading, writing, watching British sitcoms and playing board games. His biggest influences are Green Day, Nirvana, Offspring and Eels. His favourite genre is 90’s and early 00’s (indie) rock.

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