Jeremiah Johnson – Unemployed Highly Annoyed
It seems Jeremiah Johnson has time on his hands since Covid-19 unemployed many people in the entertainment business. Set to perform at many venues in early 2020 the pandemic struck & performers were home.
This tightly performed 8-cut LP seems to attack the issue on “Burn Down the Garden,” with gusto, common sense & optimism. No vitriol like Bruce Springsteen. Johnson sings about never surrendering, rise when you fall — in a voice expressly Steve Earle & Mark Germino (“Fields of Man’s New Order”).
Unemployed Highly Annoyed (drops Oct 30/Ruf Records). When Johnson sings “seems like the whole world is breaking down…” it may be the sentiments of many. In light of the fiery riots that are ever-present on the nightly news, let’s hope the words aren’t taken literally. I’m sure that’s not the intended message. The song itself is a blistering performance.
Johnson’s persuasive voice emulates a veteran rocker. Lots of ease in his inflection, confident tone & presentation. The instruments are tightly woven & “Muddy Black Water” sounds like a title used many times before but here it’s potent. Vocals are strong with crisp percussion & whining guitars. Another winner.
Performing: Jeremiah (guitars/vocals), Tony Antonelli (drums), & Paul Niehaus IV (bass/keys). Just a trio of incendiary musicians. Falling back on basic blues, an old Luther Allison chestnut “Cherry Red Wine.” Jeremiah avails himself well, but the LP looks at different aspects of the pandemic slows down the momentum of the Covid-19 subject. Poor pacing. Should’ve been the last cut & “Rock N Roll for the Soul” as well-played as it was, is filler, & expendable.
Johnson said the inspiration included how “…one side says this, the other side says something else.” But, with that knowledge, I’m surprised Johnson didn’t write a song a little angrier, grittier about being lied to by the media. Considering what’s going on it would’ve been easy from the pontificating media. Name it “Could’ve Lost Everything” – since some people did.
A soul groove follows funk-lite with “Daddy’s Going Out Tonight,” & Johnson uses his finest gruff voice for effect. The title track is good but it’s a 6-minute Allman Brothers jam that segues into another 6-minute bluesy track. Well done — heard it decades ago by Johnny Winter & John Mayall.
The showcase is consistently good – but it’s basics. Songs shine due to each musician’s proficiency. They have that in abundance. The singing is stirring & soulful. But the over-all recipe never changes. Next time – they must challenge themselves. Don’t become perishable goods — if you leave fresh fruit out in the sun too long. Well, Jeremiah is too good for that.
I’ve reviewed this band before & they often deliver — when they’re inspired. The 41-minute CD produced by Paul Niehaus IV is available at https://www.jeremiahjohnsonband.com/