Michael Johnathon


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The singer/guitarist writes some nifty liner notes explaining the difference between being a singer/songwriter and a folksinger, which he clearly identifies himself as. The basic difference is that the folksinger continues to recognize and include the music of the past within the body of their work, while a songwriter focuses solely on adding to the musical chain. He then proudly calls folk the original form of alternative music. WoodSongs isn't quite R.E.M. or Pearl Jam, of course, but it's a very attractive collection of countrified electric and acoustic guitar driven songs that often paint beautiful natural images ("Shady Grove") in the context of romantic declaration. With it's powerful, rockin' groove that tune offers a strong link to the country/rock genre. Other pieces like "Mountains O'Mourne" (which paints a fanciful social portrait of a goldmining community) are gentler, acoustic fare enhanced by Homer Ledford's precious mandolin harmonies. Johnathan mostly sticks to his guitars, but he has a blast on the live version of "Mousie Hiway," a frisky banjo sing-along. In addition to the more traditional ensemble tunes, there are a few unique surprises: Ledford's plucky mandolin solo piece "Blackberry Blossom" and the spoken poem "Weaver & the Wood" with some cool fiddle accompaniment. The great thing about this type of Americana is that it comes from a rich history and there's no way for it to ever go out of style. Johnathan is very much up to the task of carrying on in the tradition of his heroes.

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