The great, Will Johnson, returns with another incomparable melding act of spooky folk come twangy indie rock in Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm out tomorrow on Undertow. This is not a continuation of 2015’s eponymous effort, Swan City Vampires, nor is it a Centro-matic re-creation although those dubiously keen will assuredly find Johnson’s trademark guitar tone as a bit of a comfort zone. Hatteras Night is its own beast, dancing slow waltzes only to be crushed by fuzzy guitar build-ups, one introducing characters of life and their coping mechanisms, or maybe our very own mirrored in their plight.
These nine gems were crafted in a workingman’s mere 5-day work week also ironically marking the first full studio session with former Centro-drummer and studio wizard Matt Pence since 2012. This happened as an almost tragic accident with the familiar recording house jaunt, Echo Lab, nearly destroyed by fire. Enter musician and audiophile, Britton Beisenherz, in his offering up of Austin, Texas-based audio honey-hole, Ramble Creek Recording. Johnson and company set up shop in new digs with the mixture of pals old a new on this effort. Perhaps even the special sauce on this record, especially sad machine manipulator, and best name for a man doing so, Ricky Ray Jackson.
"When Centro-matic was still intact, my solo records were usually really subdued," Johnson added. "I would take them in a completely different direction than the cascade of guitars and feedback that we were really into. Now that Centro-matic is not in existence anymore, there are going to be moments where I just want to turn everything up and kind of go for it." Amen! To that end, Hatteras Night delights. There’s plenty desolate folk to boot was well as a change-up of sorts with song protagonists rather than autobiographical ditties -- or perhaps that's what we're supposed to think. Like an indelible collection of Centro/South San Gabriel for Spring 2017. The triple threat of "Heresy And Snakes", "Hey-O, Hi-O", followed up by "Predator" in succession is supremely superfluous.
Johnson is adeptly carrying his torch here, the harkening back to band’s past will never cease if only for critical love affairs thereof. I, myself, have been known to provide a Centro-matic gush piece or two, one for this very publication! Johnson’s ability to construct iron-clad songs is a fit of genius. No one can box him in, we can, however, be eternally grateful for his gifts of auditory splendor, under whatever moniker they may fall.
At that, it's with the utmost satisfaction that we present, in its entirety, the premier of Will Johnson’s, Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm. Out tomorrow 3/24/17 on Undertow.
Originally published at No Depression 3/23/17