Album review: Ethan Johns - If Not Now Then When?

Ethan Johns - If Not Now When?

Ethan Johns - If Not Now When? - Credit: Archant

Johns gives us deft, slick and modern songs cut with traditional genres. But does it all gel?

He’s won a Brit Award as a producer and has credits for being behind the desk overseeing cuts by Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, Ryan Adams and Kings Of Leon.

But this is the first time the acclaimed Johns has ventured as far as a solo album – he wrote it, and presumably came up with its title, in-between making records for others.

What we get is a modern, clean-sounding selection weaving in elements from traditional genres.

That means subtle slide guitar shimmers on Whip Poor Will, scratchy blues guitar and snappy drums on the murky, quietly snarling Morning Blues, and fiddle backing strapped to psych elements on the and decidedly retro Don’t Reach Too Far, which is stacked to the gills with a British Invasion feel.

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He’s a good songwriter for sure – the buoyant, new-love optimism of Willow attests to that – but some may find his vocals a little too pallid to inject the same level of character and vitality needed to make this a stand-out hit.

3 stars

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