Shape of Things
As well as his distinctive piano style, Josh Johnston's previous albums were noted for their lyrics - sometimes playful, sometimes provocative. But, in The Shape of Things, Johnston boldly abandons lyrics altogether. "Going purely instrumental wasn't only a response to the turbulent times we live in," says Johnston, "but when I thought about it, I figured the last thing the world needed today was yet more words. There are both too many words and, at the same time, not enough to give us calm in these times." So here instead is a piano-solo CD recorded two days after the end of the big freeze in January 2010 in St. Peter's Church of Ireland in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Brian Masterson and produced by Johnston himself. The CD features eleven original compositions, a new composition by long-time collaborator David MacKenzie and a unique interpretation of The Late Train by Birr singer/songwriter Roesy with whom Johnston toured regularly from 2001-2006. As critics have noted, Johnston's live performances are often elevated by a high degee of spontanaeity. The Shape of Things too captures that improvising spirit: while all the tracks on the CD had a composed structure, various parts throughout were improvised in the studio, including the covers. The idea of a completely instrumental album had been brewing for a while. Josh explains, "I've always put instrumentals into my live set as the piano and my piano style is such an important part of my sound and I knew that people enjoyed that side of my playing. A lot of people had been suggesting that I should record a purely instrumental piano album but I always resisted as I could always hear other instruments in my arrangements and love working with other musicians." "But when I was recording a follow-up to Asylum Harbour, I decided to start by changing tack and spent a day recording piano with Brian Masterson who I'd worked with before with David MacKenzie and on Asylum Harbour. We went to Drogheda to record some music - we had no preconceptions but to record whatever happened." "The sound grew very organically from the beginning of the session which took place at the tail-end of the really cold snap in the middle of winter 2010. I think the atmosphere is really palpable from the tracks and that informed my choice of cover art as well. By the end of the day we had 13 tracks and that was definitely a CD's worth so we decided to put it out as it was. Now I'm really looking forward to playing the music live."