From the moment singer-songwriter, Johnny Ironsights begins vocalizing his imagery-laced songs on his new album Murder Mountain, his first full-length effort, as a listener he captures you in that they practically reach out and grab you and refuse to let you go.
From the opening fiercely vivid titular track about the lawless region of Humboldt County, California, which sets the dark tone for the album, to the fiery and hard-hitting closing track “When I’m Gone, When I’m Dead,” Ironsights enthralls with his cerebral, poetic, and introspective lyrics.
Along the way, you hear his charismatic and affecting voice sing about innocence and the heartbreaking loss of it, about finding beauty and wanting to protect its memory, about the everyday struggles of life and the need to stay positive, about relentlessly seeking truth in a world engulfed in lies, and about overcoming devastating and grueling personal loss all over an omnipresent crying pedal steel guitar and Ironsights’ own distinctive and stirring guitar sound born out of his Fender Jazzmaster and Magnatone amp.
Other songs on the LP include the defiant and seething “Fertile Reign Of Juarez,” the haunting and evocative “Ghost Of Orson Welles,” the scorching and relentless “Three Nickels For A Pack Of Smokes,” the hard-edged “Powdered Moon,” the poignant and touching tale of young love “Before The Quake (Summer Of ‘95),” the hypocrisy disdaining “Closed Curtains,” the impassioned confessional “Rolling Hills Of Cain,” and the gritty and powerful “We Are The Cold.”
Taken together, the songs on Ironsights’ Murder Mountain sound like a moving and intensely personal existential document about the unfairness and the sometimes impossible hardness of life and the desire to survive in spite of all of it, themes that we can all relate to having survived the year that was 2020.
It’s still early music-wise in 2021, but I’m calling it – this intense and dynamic record is going to be one of my favorite albums of the year and Johnny Ironsights is going one of my favorite personal musical discoveries at year’s end.
Murder Mountain by Johnny Ironsights was self-produced by Ironsights and is now available on his website.