Freedy Johnston: Rain on the City

RIYL: Better Than Ezra, Counting Crows, David Mead

Freedy Johnston has been riding a small wave stemming from his mid-90’s alt-pop/modern rock hit “Bad Reputation,” from his major label debut This Perfect World. At the time, Johnston’s music could be found alongside the likes of the Gin Blossoms, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Better Than Ezra in retail stores and radio, and it fit nicely. That also was a high point for Johnston, because he continued to release a few more albums on Elektra, but never quite matched the magic of This Perfect World. The good news for his fans, though, is that Johnston has continued to make music and tour – and 2009 found him back with his original label, independent Bar/None, to release Rain on the City, Johnston’s first album of new original material in eight years. On this effort, Johnston still has hints of what made him popular a decade and a half ago, but the songs are a notch below that material, and his voice is a tad scratchier and more weathered. That isn’t to say this is bad stuff; it’s nice, and the title of the album is perfect for some of what you might call Johnston’s “rainy day” mood music – especially on the title track, as well as on “Lonely Penny” and “The Devil Raises His Own.” He also rocks a bit on the too-truthful “Don’t Fall in Love with a Lonely Girl” and offers up his take on lounge music with “The Kind of Love We’re In.” Rain on the City is a good album by anyone’s standards – but while Freedy Johnston has certainly earned the right to make his living making music, his days of making magic may be a decade or so behind him. (Bar/None 2010)

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