FIVE STAR REVIEW IN THE DAILY EXPRESS
May 31, 2013
CD Review: Noah Francis Johnson - Life and Times
As CAREER trajectories go Noah Francis Johnson's is more than unique.
By: Stephen Unwin
Published: Fri, May 31, 2013
Ticking more boxes than a stage-worth of Britain's Got Talent try-hards, Noah is a former professional boxer, a world freestyle dance champion, studied for the priesthood and - this is where it gets interesting - has the sort of voice that makes people sit up and take notice.
"The one constant has been the music," says Noah. "It's who I am." Born in Tiger Bay, South Wales, Noah's father was a dedicated yet struggling musician who took him on the road at just eight years old, dipping in and out of working men's clubs as they went and witnessing the rough with the smooth along the way.
"I shared dressing rooms with strippers and comedians," remembers Noah. "To some it seemed strange, to me it was normal."
It was this apprenticeship that got Noah where it mattered and combined with a soundtrack back home that included Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, The Carpenters and Stax, his destiny was set in stone. Now years of graft later he releases on June 10 his first album Life And Times. Thick with melody and meaning it is a confident and beautiful debut.
'My father taught me my stagecraft and gave me my voice'
Noah Francis Johnson
The infectious opener Try is a bittersweet ode to struggle, a track that buoys with delicacy. And where Try leads the rest of the album follows. His influences peeking through - folk and soul - Noah's song-writing is nevertheless coherent and affecting. And when you hear that coproduction is courtesy of Chris Kimsey, best known for his work with The Rolling Stones and a long-time friend of Noah's, it all makes perfect sense.
Of all the tracks Ballroom Blues is probably the most personal, a tribute to Noah's father and raw with emotion. It's a moving love song to a man who set Noah on the road to the present.
"My father taught me my stagecraft and gave me my voice," says Noah poignantly.
Life And Times is an exceptional debut that a father would be proud of, bursting with powerful lyricism. This album deserves to be heard.