Norfolk-based Yorkshireman and singer-songwriter Johnny Steinberg has created a very fine, independently released album. Immediately upon first listening one is struck by the impressive, professional level of performance and production but especially the level of songwriting which draws in and holds the listener from the off and throughout the album.
In an acoustic, Americana-influenced style the songs describe the world observed through experienced and compassionate eyes. These are of people, places, events and moods. Johnny has an expressive, kindly-sounding voice which can only belong to someone who sees and feels things deeply. I know he’s a big fan of Neil Young and one can sometimes detect this in the songs but the imagery of some of the songwriting is as evocative of such other poetic musical gods as Cave and Cohen.
Johnny has taken us along with him to share a stretch of his own Lost Highway which is as much observed England in a Kinks-Squeeze way as it is Americana, as one might expect with it being recorded in both countries. It’s a feat of some magnificent songwriting which deserves to be heard. One always feels words from the heart and these songs have feeling, integrity, honesty and compassion in abundance. Recorded at the Blackbird Studios, Nashville and also at Saltwell Studio and Motherlode Studio in the UK Shadowland was produced by Boo Hewerdine, Chris Pepper and Johnny Steinberg. Musicians appearing on the album include: Kira Small, Boo Hewerdine, Mark Jolley, Chris Pepper, Kate Heaton, Carol Lea, Gustaf Ljunggren, Philip Lewis-Jones, John Temple, Pat Dam Smyth, and Ernesto Olivera.
Johnny can sometimes be found playing gigs locally, either solo or accompanied by his band The Blue Fish. I first encountered Johnny at West Norfolk Radio some years back, I enjoyed his set and our chat afterwards. He told me about his song Man on Wire, inspired by the documentary film of Philippe Petit who made a highwire walk between the Twin Towers of New York in 1974. The track appears here on Shadowland.