Michael Johnson

Moonlit Déjà Vu

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Michael Johnson has been a professional musician and songwriter since the late '60s, with a handful of country hits to his name including two number ones, "Give Me Wings" and "The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder." He played guitar for the Mitchell Trio when John Denver was a member and became a frontman when the trio morphed into Denver, Boise & Johnson, but they never made a recording under that name. He hasn't made a studio album in 15 years, and since here are only two Johnson originals on the record, it would appear that he's not been doing a good deal of writing in his time away from the studio. Johnson's acoustic guitar picking has a cordial, inviting folk-pop feel with subtle classical and jazz-like flourishes. His voice remains warm and intimate, a singer able to convey strong emotion without raising his voice. Overall, the album has a soothing, laid-back feel, which is both its blessing and its curse. It makes the album perfect for background music, but most of the songs are so full of songwriting clichés that they make you shrug when you pay close attention. The exceptions are Clive Gregson's "My Favorite Lies," an ironic list of the lies we all tell ourselves to get through the day, and Johnson's "One Mile Apart," a ballad that looks at the divide between a rich woman in Texas and a working man in Mexico. Everything else here is pleasantly forgettable, except for "SoSo," a smug reinvention of "You Make Me Feel So Young" that makes you wonder what Johnson was thinking when he wrote it.

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