Home Read Classic Album Review: Freedy Johnston | Right Between the Promises

Classic Album Review: Freedy Johnston | Right Between the Promises

The singer-songwriter's seventh set is an upbeat but ultimately unsatisfying affair.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Freedy Johnston is one of those smart, sensitive singer-songwriters you want to love: Like Randy Newman and John Prine, he writes eccentric character studies and delivers them with an appealingly imperfect voice and poignantly jangling guitar. And this seventh CD Right Between the Promises finds him in a more upbeat mood than 1999’s revealing Blue Days Black Nights.

But even with all that going for it — and a suitably groovy cover of the Edison Lighthouse chestnut Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) — this CD is a curiously unsatisfying affair. Tunes like Broken Mirror and Waste Your Time are certainly poppy enough, but in the sort of superficial, Tom Petty-sorta way that suggests Freedy almost wrote them under protest. Around midset he hits his creative stride with the banjo ballad Radio for Heartache, the fuzzily skronk-blues of Back to My Machine and the jazzy Save Yourself, City Girl. But the rest of the time, Johnston is just delivering standard fare instead of setting the standard.