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Johnny Confidence

Joel Barnhart
February 21, 2011

Last week I wrote a review of Tami Neilson's The Kitchen Table Sessions Vol II, produced by her brother Jay Neilson. In addition to that album, though, Jay also gave me a second album, Johnny Confidence.

This album is a total departure from the album reviewed last week. the album is a fast, cheerful pop rock piece, and if I had to use one word to describe it, it would be "marketable". The fact that Jay hasn't been picked up by a major label is a shock to me, based on the strength of this album. We live in a world where Avril Lavigne is famous, and yet artists like Jay still have to have day jobs.

Anyway, enough of my bitching, because if he keeps producing work like this, it's just a matter of time before he does make it big, and we here at GamePlan can have the satisfaction knowing that we covered his work before that happened.

The album starts with Where'd You Go?, which is probably my least favourite track on the album, but I have to admit would make a hell of a radio single.

As the album progresses, I like each subsequent song more than the last. I sat here, listening to it, and The Julie Song comes on, and it's fun and catchy, and I'm thinking "This is pretty good" and then the next song comes on, and I like it a little better and so on and so forth. I'm particularly fond of Till The Stars Show and Stuck on Rewind.

I also like the interludes, which are weird, short little pieces that I think add extra personality to the record, and almost remind me of something you'd expect on some of Tom Wait's later albums. One of them features a theremin, and that adds like, 50 cool points right there.

I'm re-listening to the album as I write, and immediately after saying how fond I was of the previous two tracks, Aliens and Angels come on, and again I like this better than those two. The drumming is fantastic.

Also featured on the album is a cover of Where Everybody Knows Your Name, which is known to most as the theme song from Cheers. I've always liked Cheers, and the theme song, and so I thought it was a nice touch. Very good cover, and when I saw it on the track list, I definitely got a crack out of it.

The thing that makes this album so impressive is that it was written, sung, played and produced by one guy. He, of course, did have some help from others, including Gideon Courtney and Jeff Wardell on drums, Jordan Dean on Piano, and Aaron Solomon on violin, among others. Still though,
It's an impressive accomplishment, and it speaks volumes about his skills and talents as a musician.

As per usual, you can check Jay out at