When it comes to the genres of Americana and country music, lyrics and storytelling are incredibly important. These songs weave intimate tales of loss, love, life, and more, all in four minutes or less. Nashville-based singer-songwriter Addison Johnson is an artist who perfectly captures the spirit of musical storytelling. Taking influences from country, Americana, and bluegrass music, Johnson masterfully crafts musical anecdotes that make you want to gather around a campfire and listen.
Johnson’s latest album, Dark Side of the Mountain, is an excellent example of his storytelling prowess. The project explores the darker, shadier side of society, complete with stories of death, criminal debauchery, and drinking until the sun rises. All while he is accompanied by the backdrop of crisp guitars, fiddles, and warm, well-mixed country vocals. Whether he’s telling you about fighting the person with whom your girlfriend cheated or recounting the story of an aspiring musician who drowned in the Cumberland River, Addison Johnson manages to keep you engaged and make you want to dance, laugh, cry, or all three.
One exciting thing about Addison’s music is how he balances mood and tone between different songs on the album. Many of the songs on Dark Side of the Mountain feature bleak or sinister lyrics offset by an upbeat, rhythmic guitar and jolly country vocals. For example, the previously referenced song about fighting your ex-lover’s new man, called “Heartache in the Hills,” is set to a groovy rhythm that makes you feel good — even though the song talks about acts of revenge.
Part of why Addison’s music is so amazing is that it genuinely makes you feel like you’re along for the ride on his crazy adventures. When he talks about people drinking and popping pills to get through the winter in “Barely Getting By,” you can see the harsh reality that people are fighting. Similarly, when he talks about evading the law in a stolen vehicle in “Rollin’ Stolen,” you can see yourself in the passenger seat, along for the ride.
It’s this feeling of immersion that makes his music so powerful. Johnson has been praised for his ability to write solid hooks and directly relate to his audience. This album is no exception. In an era where people have been driven apart by quarantine, Johnson has created music that strongly connects people on a personal level. I strongly suggest checking out Dark Side of the Mountain, as well as the rest of his musical projects.
Featured Image courtesy of Addison Johnson
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