Lisa Marie Johnston has a winning combination: sweet voice, folky guitars, and a soul full of Americana. Her album The Reto Sessions, named after engineer and producer Reto Peter who did great work on this album, musically describes the cyclical nature of love, from separation to (almost) hatred, to freedom, to love again, making it an ideal album for those going through their own breakups and relationship issues.
The album is broken into 2 volumes. Volume 1, comprised of four songs, has a slightly sad, chilling tinge to it. “Battle Wounds” begins the album by describing the dichotomy of feeling hurt by a past lover but missing them at the same time. The momentum continues through the excellent piano riff that opens “Home To Oakland.”
“I Will Find My Way” begins the phase of defiance…she boldly kicks the song off with the declaration that she ‘don’t need Jesus’ and goes deeper to explain and assert her independence from all shackles and restrictions. It’s an empowering song, for sure. Gentler “The Long Goodbye” calms things down and brings it back to the tone of the first song.
Volume 2 is arguably the B-side to Volume 1, as is apparent through the stark contrast in the energy and tempo of the next three songs. “Twice As Good As You” is bright and sprightly, with a sense of release and exhilaration present especially in her voice. It’s an incredibly triumphant and freeing piece that continues into “Walk Away.” Her confidence and self-sufficiency is clearly through the roof, which made me happy. She wraps up the album with “When You Hold Me,” a bubbly yet still mellow song dedicated to the excitement of new and fresh love, the kind of love that was missing from the old and more torturous relationship. The super sweet, perfectly harmonious vocals near the end reminded me of many R&B songs that I like to listen to.
It’s hard not to imagine this album striking the hearts of people everywhere, especially those coming out on the other side of a bad relationship (be it friendship, romantic, or otherwise) – but even if you aren’t quite in that situation, there’s a lot to love about this. What I liked most was that the music sounded effortless; everything, from her voice to the accompanying instruments to the lyrical content sounded perfectly natural and was highly relatable on top of it. It was a very nice and uplifting listen.
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