Johnson and McAuley

Rockwood Music Hall / New York City, NY

Johnson and McAuley by Nick Holmes
Johnson and McAuley by Nick Holmes

The minute I walked into Rockwood, it turned into great night. Alexz Johnson, half of Johnson and McAuley, has been my favorite female artist for years, so it was quite a feeling to approach the bar and realize she was standing right next to me. After a few moments of chatting, she quickly asked if I could help her carry some drinks to the band waiting downstairs at Stage Three. The coziness of the space- just several small table and chairs- coupled with the fact that I had just helped her out, gave me the impression that it was going to be a truly intimate night, and indeed it was. I spoke to Johnson after the show to ask about Bleu, or McAuley, and how they began working together. Years back, Johnson was signed to Sony and met Bleu. They sparked up a friendship, and he even helped her with her recently released EP, Heart. The two are working together on new material that will be released under Johnson and McAuley, and they premiered some of their new stuff as well as old songs they had written, accompanied by Joe Seiders on the drums.

Johnson exuded class, with a voice filled with an overwhelming amount of confidence. One of the best parts of the night was when Johnson insisted on performing without the mic, saying that sometimes her voice is so powerful it frightens her. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is frightening, but when she sings, she really sings. Her voice is so amazingly expressive that a song she sang about heartbreak can make you think she’s going through it for the first time. McAuley mostly accompanied Johnson instrumentally, but he did sing occasionally as well. The two chatted the whole performance, with witty banter back and forth. They discussed a new music video, which they described as being a little bit Lord of the Rings and a little bit “Peter Gabriel with a sledgehammer… but not.” The two clearly came off as close friends, and we were there to just look on and witness the magic as it happened. Johnson also performed “Drifting,” which is an original song she wrote for The Dishwasher, a Canadian film about prostitutes disappearing and no one saying anything about it. It was painful to hear, but it definitely got the audience interested in seeing the film.

It was a really great night, and a perfect way for Johnson and McAuley to showcase their new project. Overall though, Johnson was, without a doubt, the shining light of the evening. Her voice is full of passion and raw emotion, yet it seems to naturally come out of her in effortless perfection. She has worked on many different projects in the past, all of which are extraordinary and demonstrate what a talented artist she is.

If you’re new to Johnson, you can find more information about her on her website here, where she also puts up new information about her duo with McAuley.

-Claudia Arnoldo

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