Wilko Johnson

Blow Your Mind

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Blow Your Mind is where Wilko Johnson gets back to business, writing his first collection of original songs in 30 years. A lot happened in those three decades, particularly the 2010s, when Johnson battled a rare form of pancreatic cancer which was misdiagnosed and eventually cured. Johnson's public profile grew during this period in the mid-2010s, thanks in part to the storming 2014 album Going Back Home, a collaboration with Roger Daltrey that helped push Johnson back into the spotlight. Julien Temple's 2015 documentary The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson, which chronicled the guitarist's illness and comeback, sealed the deal on the revival, but Johnson didn't get a chance to cut a brand-new record until 2018. Blow Your Mind benefits from that delay, as Johnson had the time to write 12 solid senders while his band continued to settle into their skin. Johnson doesn't write about his brush with death so much as his current perspective. He's a man who knows the end could arrive at any time, so he's choosing to celebrate living, having some fun and fire as he does so. This spirit helps lift Blow Your Mind above its occasional mannerisms -- the production is slightly too clean and punchy, the songs are proudly within the blues tradition -- because the songs are infused with sharp details and performed with gusto. It's heartfelt and gutsy, performed without flash but with steely spirit, feelings that elevate Blow Your Mind above many of the other records in Johnson's solo discography.

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