Album Review

Freedy Johnston, 'Rain on the City'

January 11, 2010

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Freedy Johnston last released an album of new music in 2001 (he put out an engaging covers collection in 2008), but the years since have yielded a gorgeous pop record. It’s filled with a crackling energy, the helium buzz of Johnston’s voice, and his singular character sketches, ruminations, and fly-on-the-wall observations. “Rain on the City’’ moves effortlessly from layered acoustics (“Lonely Penny’’) to light bossa swing (“The Kind of Love We’re In’’), from Buddy Holly big-beat (“The Other Side of Love’’) to Bacharach-esque horn lines (“The Devil Raises His Own’’) and on to muscular power pop (“Don’t Fall in Love With a Lonely Girl’’) and crunchy country-rock (“Livin’ Too Close to the Rio Grande’’). Johnston is unparalleled at limning emotional shades and complexities within the confines of a three-minute song, and once again - in the sad parting occasioned by a father’s death in “Central Station’’ - that facility is in sparkling form. It’s been a long time coming, but “Rain on the City’’ was worth the wait. (Out tomorrow) STUART MUNRO

Freedy Johnston Rain on the City
ESSENTIAL “What You Cannot See, You Cannot Fight’’