REVIEW: John John Brown – “Americana Comics”


John John Brown’s streaming only release, Americana Comics, is newly up on Spotify now. A collection of well-crafted “storytelling songs inspired by real people” populate this release. Each of the seven songs has also been recreated as a comic book available through his website here:

Americana Comics features John John Brown on vocals and acoustic guitar with assistance from Andy Stack (electric guitar, mandolin, vocals), Jacob Silver (upright bass), Konrad Meissner (drums), and Jeremy Baum (B3 organ).

“On Black Friday I Met Jesus” kicks of this set with a fittingly somber mood for the subject matter as a schizophrenic watches as Jesus as watches “as people ripped each other into pieces over 40 inch TVs and house supplies” at local Walmart. Jesus shares wisdom, as he should, “all them lost people would be alright if they just soaked in a little starlight”.

“Where the Good Buzz Goes” hits its stride with a traveling backbeat that matches the walking man at the center of the story, “two cold beers and he’s back on the road”. “Graduation Day” nods to early rock and roll influences on country duets.

“Mary” presents another down and out story of an overweight women with “hairy arms and a mole on her cheek”, but who “beneath all that weight she carries there’s a little girl still dancing in the creek.” There’s a familiar bittersweet sadness lingering on John John’s voice as he presents a story about pervasiveness of dreams let go and a life unfulfilled.

Driven by a bouncing banjo, “Armadillo Song” finds John John and company taking a turn at the playful; a welcomed reprieve from the sorrowful stories that populate America and Americana Comics. “Yossi the Balloon Man” recalls John Prine’s lyrical cadence while album closer, “Big Old Beard”, leans more toward the traditional with fiddle accompaniment. Both “Yossi” and “Beard” balance a mix of joy and sorrow for what we gain and lose through the course of a lifetime lived well or ill.

John John Brown’s Americana Comics presents the tragedy that is human existence in modern American mixed with a silver lining of hope. Even with or possible in spite of the tortured souls that populate Americana Comics, on “Big Old Beard” John John finds solstice in the close personal relationships of life as he sings, “I love you my beautiful wife.”

Pick up a copy of the Americana Comics comic books and stream the accompanying songs on Spotify for a multimedia storytelling experience.

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