ACL Fest Friday Review

ACL Fest Friday Review

Daniel Johnston

Is and Always Was (High Wire/Eternal Yip Eye)

"I'm just a psycho trying to write a song," lisps Daniel Johnston on opener "Mind Movies," as if trying to sum up his entire career. For someone who's built that niche career on lo-fi tape-hiss recordings wrought from isolation and mental illness, the Jason Falkner-produced Is and Always Was feels a bit forced. "Fake Records of Rock and Roll," with its blues rock riff and Johnston shouting "Look out!" before the guitar breakdown, is cringe-worthy. The Waller native and long Austin-associated musical savant still trembles vocally here and there, lending "High Horse" a dose of charm, but Johnston hasn't changed his subject matter, so the chooglin' piano of "Without You" and arena scour of "I Had Lost My Mind" feel out of sync with his lyrics. Thirty years on, polish seems pointless. (4:45pm, Austin Ventures stage.)

**

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