Nicholas Johnson has not only released a new incredible record, Shady Pines Vol. 2, but played an incredible record release show at Urban Artifact in Cincinnati that we were able to see! Damn, what a good show. The celebration of new music from Nicholas included stellar sets from The New Old-Fashioned’s David Payne and Kent Montgomery (longtime listeners of the show will know that TNOF is a big fave of YTAA) and The Pinkerton Raid. He is coming back to Dayton on Thursday, March 23rd at Blind Bob’s and you should make plans now to catch that show (again with The Pinkerton Raid and Dayton alt-country heroes, Age Nowhere joining the bill).
I cannot pick a favorite song from Shady Pines Vol. 2 but the latest video from Mr. Johnson is a standout on the record. New Vampire is lyrically deep and musically rich. The song is propelled with a gravity of its own that explores the idea of how we experience evenings. The rhythms on this song are deceptively seductive. Nicholas does not have to scream to create an inescapable emotional impact. When he sings “The west is calling, the west is falling” — you believe him because you have felt the same way.
To say that he has a gift with a clever turn of phrase is a sincere moment of understatement. Nicholas takes the anomie and alienation that swells around us that feels like we are being pulled under the surface by a current of our own creation and makes it a statement that does not have the hollow ring of melancholy. The words reveal the power and passion of inescapable frenzy and yet surprisingly tantalizing prospect of loneliness of the current age in which we find ourselves:
Premonition and the prophet screams
Rage into the void of a restless dream
Phone screen burns like man makes fire
Ushers in the age of the new vampire
Don’t you feel the new age dawning
I can feel it move through my bones
All the places I call home
Yeah we crawl into the unknown
Ah the west is calling
The west is calling
The west is falling