Jude Johnstone

On a Good Day

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Since Jude Johnstone writes and sings her own songs, it would be fairly easy to peg her as a typical singer/songwriter. But her soulful vocals and knack for writing down-to-earth lyrics seems to reach beyond the typical with On a Good Day. Johnstone never really belts out the words like Bonnie Raitt or Tony Price, but she delivers songs like the title track and "Deep Water" in a slow, Southern groove that recalls both singers. The languid pace allows her to wrap her voice around a song like "Old and Gray," bringing an emotional depth to the tender lyric. The piano-violin-bass-drum arrangements provide spare but resonant backing, allowing Johnstone plenty of cushion to sing against, while a series of backup vocalists add nice touches here and there. All of these elements work together to bring out the best in each song. It also helps that Johnstone's lyrics are never pretentious or overly "deep" and vague. Story songs like "Evelyn" actually tell a story, while the soulful "Hold On" works as a simple ode to the human spirit. While it might have been nice if McDonnell had included more up-tempo songs, On a Good Day is nonetheless a nicely made album, filled with well-sung songs.

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