Singer-songwriters seem to be all the rage at the moment. Truth be told most of them write glorified pop-songs and try to appeal to the mothering instincts within every woman, but Craig Johnston’s debut EP aspires to slightly different things.
Born in Scotland of Scottish/Irish descent, he spent much of his life travelling around the country. He recently moved to London and started to work as a barman at the infamous Half Moon pub in Putney (one of the first places where the Rolling Stones cut their teeth). Inspired by the live music on show, Johnston decided to push in this artistic direction and the first result of his work is this EP, Burning Time.
What strikes on first listen is the clarity of his voice, pop sensibilities mingle with a message that is far from pop. Although on first listen you may think that this is another Jose Gonzalez/James Blunt/Jack Johnson (or is it John Jackson?) clone, the strength of the songs on display here show that Craig Johnson has a much more lyrical style than the aforementioned which ultimately make these tracks more interesting.
‘Two Words’ is the most poppy song on the EP, and has radio play written all over it. This is the kind of song that will be appreciated by Virgin Radio and BBC Radio Two. ‘Burning Time’ seems to be a song about waiting for a lover. Is it right or wrong to wait for someone? Here Johnston’s insecurities as a person come through in a most refreshing manner. This is a topic which undoubtedly many a person has thought of in their lives (I know I certainly have). The production on this track is excellent with a violin, piano and harmonies which intermingle in a beautiful way but it never feels like too much is going on at the same time.
‘Made of Stone’ is of the same calibre as ‘Burning Time’ and sees Johnston sing for a former lover proclaiming that he had given her all he had to give and basically saying that he was not made of stone. A wonderful song that is likely to be appreciated by many. ‘Why?’, the final song on the EP is completely different to the others. Here drum loops and a disturbing, menacing vibe create a piece drenched in emotion. Here Johnston sounds like Tom Baxter mixed with Thom Yorke and it works well.
Craig Johnston’s debut EP will appeal to those who cannot get enough of the current vogue of singer-songwriter acts. It will also appeal to those looking for a little more substance to their songs. Should Johnston follow up this EP with more songs of similar calibre, then he will have a bright future.