Artist: The Saint Johns
Album: Dead of Night
Label: Kemosabe Records
Release Date: 03/14/2016
Blessed be the Saint Johns, for the rich, intoxicating Americana found on their debut album Dead of Night brimming with warm melodies, emotional resonance. Their swooning male-female vocal harmonies are exquisite.
If this is a prayer of sorts, forgive them of their minor trespasses, for they do not detract from what is an otherwise gorgeous record by the duo of Louis Johnson and Jordan Meredith. They succumb to generic balladry in “Blood Red Fever” and what could be an incandescent “Little Bit” is awfully precious, which could also be said of the wheeling “Coming Home,” although it’s rendered with undeniable sincerity and gives off such a lovely, summery glow that it would seem terribly inhospitable not to welcome it with open arms.
Nothing they do, though, may ever measure up to “Lost That Feeling,” a wounded, bruised beauty with hooks to die for and a tender, bittersweet melody that simply aches for meaning. Yet “Shadowplay” comes close, its rickety acoustic intro giving way to a glorious crescendo washing over witnesses of its sonically rich theatrics. The swaggering “Testifier” is rooted in fiery, Old Testament rock ‘n’ roll, taking the preachings of Jerry Lee Lewis to heart.
While hardly noticeable, the Southern accents of a modern-sounding Dead of Night are there, informing the guitars and adding light, sweetness and soul to their singing. Where the slinky title track incorporates the guitar jangle of the Byrds and gently rumbles along in the dark, “Faded Love” wanders underneath the twinkling desert night sky wondering where it all went wrong. Saints be praised.
– Peter Lindblad