Stubble and Hay: Gord Johnson
The field of contemporary Christian music is not the normal scope of this column. An exception has been the delightful craft of Steve Bell. On two occasions, his releases on the independent SignPost label have been reviewed in this space.
Occasional Bell collaborator Gord Johnson aims for the same market with his SignPost debut, Stubble and Hay. Like Bell, Johnson delivers material that will appeal to a wide range of age groups and denominations.
Comparisons to stablemate Bell are inevitable, and are helpful in introducing Johnson's material. While there is a Bell-like pop effervescence to most tracks, and the kinship is uncanny on pieces like Shine On Me and the acoustic-cored waltz True Friend, Johnson is a bit more of a rocker at heart.
This rock-spiced pop is often delivered as a smooth blues elixir; Ps. 57 (Oh Lord Have Mercy) and Can't Take My Soul borrow most heavily from the blues idiom.
In the process, Johnson has a knack of writing melodies and progressions that stick in the mind. These tunes are given plenty of helpful rock flourishes: the bubbly bite of Paul O'Neill's lead guitar in Why, Why and O'Neill's more tart guitar chops in Can't Take My Soul; little insertions of slide, mandolin, and acoustic plucking by Bell; Cathy Nosata's accordion in You Who Dwell and Lap of Luxury; and Johnson's own harp chops in Real Love. …