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Reviews: Johnny Reliable ~ Enough is Enough|
Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2004 @ 08:34:29 UTC
Artist: Johnny Reliable
CD: Enough is Enough
Home: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Style: High-Energy Rock
Quote: "This is an album that just begs to be blasted from the speakers of the vintage El Dorado convertible, top down, setting sun ahead, dashed lines whipping by."
By A.J. Van Beest
"He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough." -Lao Tsu
Reviewing music is always an exercise in Gumphood. You remember -- the bench, the chocolate box, the drawled, “You never know what you're gonna get.” Well knock me down and call me Forest, 'cause Johnny Reliable is on the scene, and my speakers just aren't loud enough.
From power chord intro of the first track on, JR's Enough is Enough gets the nod. You know, where you're trying to look cool on the dance floor, but the music just lifts and throws your head, hair flying like spray in a hurricane. Raise your hand if you've been there. Yeah, that's what I thought.
The Tulsa-based Johnny Reliable is anything but OK. Mark Joseph lays down solid time on the drum set. Marianna (as in Marianna of the one-named artist set) lays down the band's melodic foundation with her strong bass riffs and gives guitar man Jerrad Dillard room to do his thing. Said thing ranges from rhythm comping to tasty solo work. Brian Jensen's vocals are crisp and strong throughout the album, but I always picture him singing with a little lip curl. Yo, Elvis.
While the individual musicianship on Enough is Enough is solid, it's nothing special; I've heard most of the riffs on this album in other places. What is really special, though, is the chemistry of the band. The whole of Johnny Reliable is way more than the sum of its parts. This is an album that just begs to be blasted from the speakers of the vintage El Dorado convertible, top down, setting sun ahead, dashed lines whipping by.
If the infectious road-tripping grooves on Enough is Enough aren't enough reason to check out the album, how's about a band that can write, too? Don't get me wrong, Johnny Reliable's punk-tinged rock isn't all metaphysical sonets set to distorted electric guitar, but there's definitely something there. Check out this bit from “Blissful Life:”
And you say to me, “Just try and smile.”
I can still remember that cold, wintry night
You danced among the trees like a mystical sprite
You were laughing and shouting. At what?
You really couldn't say.
That day you got into my brain.
And I'm wishing and hoping to be like you
You have this warm light that rips my heart in two
It's driving me so crazy 'cause I don't even know your name.
It's a blissful life - you're so blissful.
Like I said, it ain't Shakespeare -- ain't no Kerouac, neither -- but Enough is Enough is mostly beyond the typical 11th-grade angst-filled drivel that seems to dominate rock and roll. Heck, Johnny Reliable even goes after death on this album. From the track “Tunnel of Light:”
And he holds her hand as the tears slowly fill her eyes
Yet he smiles, oh for a while, oh how his face begins to gleam
And he says, “My dear love, I will always be with you, but now I have to go.”
I have one final acid test of music: The Cat. My little bald-bellied siamese princess is like a dowsing rod for great music. She'll hang out with Coltrane, Miles, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, but if I turn on some wretched dude with an out-of-tune ukulele, her ears go back and she starts yowling. Pets really are like their owners.
Now, in the middle of Enough is Enough, she's laying on her back, all stretched out, kneading the stuffing out of my old orange couch. Maybe it really is a blissful life.
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