Greg Johnson

Me and Joanna

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B.B. King had his Lucille, and the titular Joanna in question here is the name New Zealander Greg Johnson has bestowed upon his piano. That title is perfectly sensible given that the bulk of Me and Joanna finds the singer/songwriter enjoying an intimate relationship with his instrument (even on the tracks with additional accompaniment, the piano dominates the arrangements), largely on a set of ballads that survey a range of topics and emotions from romance to loss of same to matters biblical. At his best, on tracks such as "If I Swagger," "Handles of Pearl" and "Pleasure and Overdose" (all songs he's recorded previously with a full band -- there are also three new ones here), Johnson applies his strong melodic sense to vignettes that don't always pretend to be cheerful and rarely have happy endings. Yet somehow, the sincerity of his delivery and the grandness of the production are such that there's a feel-good quality to Johnson's stripped-down presentations.

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