Download: Select tracks, including "Don't Fall In Love With a Lonely Girl" and "Venus Is Her Name," free via Daytrotter.
Freedy Johnston is the Jackson Browne of his generation. Yet it's hard to put a finger on what's stopped Jonston from achieving the success afforded his folk-pop forerunner. Perhaps it's because Freedy is a name that only a dreadlocked lesbian can get away with, or maybe it's because his songs, while always meticulously crafted, have often toed the (finer than you'd think) line between beautiful and boring. His biggest hit, "Bad Reputation," came in 1994, and even it was a modest success at best. But still, it's one of those songs that, when you hear it, you instantly think, "Wow, is this a great fucking song." And then you can't remember who wrote or sang it.
Johnston's been on almost a decade-long hiatus from writing and recording his own music. Normally, this would be career suicide, but when you've already taken your best shot and failed to crack mass consciousness, it's probably savvier than it seems. Johnston, like James McMurtry, has a reasonably-sized pack of devotees, and they'll be positively pining for him when he plays the Tractor on Tuesday, May 11, where he'll likely draw generously from his newish album, Rain on the City.
The title track is a snooze, and so is the jazzy "The Kind of Love We're In." But those tracks aside, Rain is the sort of album that creeps up on you in the absolute best way. By the time you've given it a second spin, you're all in on superb tracks like "The Other Side Of Love," "Central Station," and "Don't Fall In Love With a Lonely Girl," which stands this album's best chance of sustained play on KMTT and the like.