Johnny Payne finds trouble in paradise on his lovelorn new single Calle Easy — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
The latest sneak peek from the Vancouver singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s upcoming album King Of Cups, Calle Easy — aka Easy Street for those of you who skipped out during Spanish 101 — paints a lyrical portrait and musical of a dream vacation south of the border.
“Here I stand, on golden sand,” croons Payne as he lazily watches pelicans fish in the sea and tries to work up the energy to stroll into town to eat. Fittingly, the backdrop for his idle, thoughtless musings seems every bit as relaxing: A sweet south-of-the border melody set to a Latin rhythm that gently sways like a palm tree in the breeze. Piano notes that twinkle like sunlight on the water. Slide guitars that glisten like Coppertone. And, of course, a complement of female backup singers whose tight-harmony vocals are as warm and welcoming as a tropical sunset.
But make no mistake: There’s a fly or two in Johnny’s suntan lotion. Like the fact that he’s surrounded by silver-haired octogenarian tourists with silver hair (or none at all), skin like shoe leather and “faces all glued and repaired.” And that he’s worried about turning into one of them. But ultimately, his real problem isn’t who’s there: It’s who isn’t.
“Here I stand, guitar in hand, alone on Calle Easy,” he laments. “How can a person be here and still be blue? Somehow it’s easy to do. If only the tide would come and roll me home to you.” Sounds less like a tropical getaway and more like someone trying to run away from heartbreak. But as the old saying goes: No matter where you go, there you are.
As for where Payne is these days: Well, that’s another story. A founding member of The Shilohs, Johnny wrote and produced more than half of the band’s material, contributing to three albums and an assortment of other releases. Since leaving the group a few years ago, he has been producing, recording for film and quietly releasing his own music — including the well-received 2018 EP Johnny, which was recorded and co-produced by Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis.
Payne has been laying low the past couple of years but he has always been a performer, and King Of Cups is all Johnny, all the time. He wrote it, arranged it, produced it and played a variety of instruments on it. He also wanted the album to showcase the talent of his live backing band The Margarita Machine, which is basically a who’s who of the Vancouver music scene. He’s always had a keen ear for melody, harmony and slick arrangements and everyone who hears King of Cups will know it. It’s a whole lot of fun to listen to as well. We know Johnny couldn’t care less about getting into Who’s Who, but this album will at least stop folks from asking: ‘Who’s he?’