In Johnathan Rice’s newest album “Further North,” the 24-year-old singer/songwriter successfully combines granola folk music with a head-bopping rhythm that is easy to groove to.
He continues the use of avant-garde sound effects begun in his previous album “Trouble is Real,” utilizing the sound of a camera winding to set a beat in the first single of the album, entitled “Stay at Home.” In the beginning tracks, Rice successfully draws the listener into his groove with lyrics such as “I took a camera on vacation to put Miami in a frame.” His words are not lost among the instrumentals, which are soft enough to underscore his vocals and complement Rice’s raspy voice — which recalls both the softness of John Mayer and drawling, elongated style of Dave Matthews Band — complements his folksy lyrics and soft rock appeal. The single “We’re All Stuck Out in The Desert,” while suffering slightly from the monotonous repetition of the title line, perfectly exudes Rice’s left-of-center viewpoint, with lyrics such as “an investment banker started something so I broke his neck.”
The lyrics and beat of most of the tracks are intriguing enough to arouse the curiosity of most soft rock aficionados, while accessible enough to appeal to many mainstream music listeners. The final half of the tracks on the album tend more towards the rock end of the musical spectrum, as Rice’s voice hardens and evolves with the tracks to a completely surprising end with the tracks “Hard to Believe” and “It is Best to Keep it All Inside,” depressing and cynically self-pitying creations which seem unbelievably anti-Rice. An evolutionary album for the artist, Johnathan Rice’s “Further North” is certainly worth a few listens.
Listen to Johnathan Rice at www.myspace.com/johnathanrice