Sounding like the culmination of all of his myriad other projects, from the quirky, rural folk-pop of the Fruit Bats to the psych-tinged post-rock of Califone and the smart, Beatles/Beach Boys-esque indie rock of the Shins (there are even elements at play here from his film score work on Smashed and Our Idiot Brother), pop polymath Eric D. Johnson's first foray under just his initials is all about the art of songcraft. Festooned with not-so-obvious hooks and richly detailed yet never intrusive arrangements, and delivered with the easy gait of someone doing exactly what they should in life, EDJ feels like it sounds and vice-versa, especially on standout cuts like "For the Boy Who Moved Away," "Lose It All, All the Time," and "A West County Girl." Similar in tone to stalwart retro-pop enthusiasts like Jonathan Wilson, Richard Swift, M. Ward, Ken Stringfellow, and Ron Sexsmith, there's an effortless '70s AOR vibe at play here that suggests a steady diet of Rundgren, Nilsson, and Van Dyke Parks. While the music, all weepy pedal steel, soft piano, finger-picked electric and acoustic guitars, and on-the-nose handclaps, points to the West Coast, Johnson's lyrical tone is one of firm yet agreeable Midwest stoicism, all self-effacement, polite disagreement, and weary acceptance of one's place in the world, a notion he sums up nicely on the stellar fourth cut "Minor Miracles" with the lyric "Everyone you've ever known was made from some kinda weird mojo." It's a sentiment that can be applied to Johnson and his languid ambient pop confections as well, all of which are sweet enough for Sunday morning, yet carry with them the weight of a lost weekend.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger