Will Johnson

Record review

ACL Fest Reviews

Will Johnson

Vultures Await (Misra) No one has ever accused Will Johnson of being a messenger of sweetness and light. After all, this is a man who writes songs about industrial waste and couples dying from gas leaks. That said, the Austinite's second solo album, Vultures Await, is a soundtrack for anyone looking to drink themselves stupid. Johnson kicks things off channeling Tom Waits on the simple, spare "Catherine Dupree." It's just Johnson and his piano telling the tale of a woman setting her past on fire, onlookers powerless in her midst. "Just to Know What You've Been Dreaming" is its painfully lovely follow-up, the spurned lover willing to do anything for a glimpse into his loved one's life. Johnson's pain is palpable when he sings, "I would swim the seven seas just to crawl along your beaches." Empathy alone inspires smarting eyes stuck with tears. The violin of Johnson's South San Gabriel bandmate Scott Danbom on "Just Some Silence" and "Sleep a While" perfectly articulates longing, à la the Dirty Three. It's almost impossible to imagine that this emotionally complex album was recorded in a scant five days during the summer of 2003. The songs are, obviously, much more personal than what's to be found on a Centro-matic or South San Gabriel disc, and the intimacy created by this stark recording offers yet another view of a truly gifted songwriter on the ascendancy. (Sunday, Centro-matic plays 4pm, Austin Ventures stage)


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Melanie Haupt
Desert Door Distillery Rolls Out Large Hand Sanitizer Production
Desert Door Distillery Rolls Out Large Hand Sanitizer Production
Local sotol makers offer the critical commodity free of cost

March 20, 2020

Tibetan Dumplings Shine at Yak & Yeti in Cedar Park
Tibetan Dumplings Shine at Yak & Yeti in Cedar Park
Dishes for sharing (or not) at this tiny Nepalese restaurant

Feb. 14, 2020

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle