Only 18 years old Chase Johansson is making music that sounds well beyond his years. After finishing high school he recorded Red Brick Road. It contains five songs (six if you include the live version of “Red Brick Road”) that are well produced and written. The songs revolve around Johansson’s vocals and acoustic guitar although there are some other instruments scattered amongst the songs. One of the first things you will notice about the songs is the slick production. His guitar sound likes it two feet in front of you and his voice resonates as though he is playing in a small venue.
His music utilizes well-placed vocal harmonies to accentuate certain phrases on some songs. It’s subtle but it makes a difference. Lyrically, he isn't too shabby either as his lyrics aren't too abstract or cliché at the same time. His delivery is warm and has a commercial appeal that almost sounds too recognizable at points. Nonetheless, Johansson's got a good voice.
The album opens with “Trust Me” which contains hints of melancholy and just enough optimism to find a good balance. It is a solid song that displays good songwriting even if it is a bit hokey at points. The opener was good but the best song on the album goes to the title track “Red Brick Road.” The song has a country swagger that will induce a knee-slapping hoedown. The song is his acoustic and voice until about the one-minute mark where we are introduced to handclaps and a walking bass line that gives a good amount of energy. I hope to hear more of this style from him in the future because it sure fits his voice and he pulls it off well.
“Storm Song” is the most nostalgic, melancholy-fueled song on the album while “Sand” contains the best vocal harmonies on the album. “April 12th” which just so happens to be my birthday is an upbeat ditty that I couldn't help but think could have benefitted from a swinging drum beat and steady bass line. It felt a bit sparse.
Johansson is more than impressive. He is a good songwriter who still seems to be finding his style. In the meantime I would listen to Red Brick Road.
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