Album Reviews

Album Review: Daniel Johnston – Is And Always Was (Feraltone)

By | Published on Friday 30 October 2009

Daniel Johnston

Daniel Johnston is 48. This should not be the record of a 48-year-old. It should be the record of a 24-year-old wanting to be 48, or even a 68-year-old trying to reel back the years. But not a 48-year-old. No.

It seems that, after influencing Flaming Lips, TV On The Radio and Wilco with his lo-fi folk blues, this particular demi-legend is in turn trying to ape his successors, enthusing his latest record with an infectious rock and roll sound complete with polished production, a cacophony that somewhat drowns out Johnston’s still raw voice.

Don’t worry though – its power shines through occasionally, most effectively giving the Pixies-style rock of ‘I Had Lost My Mind’ some suitable Frank Black fear. And that’s Frank Black when he was 20. Years of age, not stone. For Johnston isn’t just letting songs of youth fit naturally into a more elderly setting, he’s making a new record that wouldn’t feel out of place coming from any number of much younger American alt-rock sorts.

All this youthfulness in its sound works, and as a result this becomes the singer’s most accessible and immediate record yet. And like Benjamin Button before him, Johnston sounds only younger as the years go by. Fortunately, unlike Benjamin Button, ‘Is And Always Was’ doesn’t want to make you switch off after five minutes. TM

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