Troubled troubador

Which Freedy Johnston do you prefer? The rocker? Or the sensitive songwriter?

First impressions are tough to crack, and This Perfect World, Johnston’s 1994 major label debut, made an indelible one. A collection of quiet, poignant stories, This Perfect World screamed hit while it whispered timelessness.

Johnston followed that album in 1996 with a set of loud rockers on Never Home. It marked a return to his pre-major label days, namely the critically lauded Can You Fly?

Rocker Freedy? Or quiet Freedy?

The Notebook prefers the latter and as such, likes Blue Days, Black Nights, Johnston’s return to soft songs.

Back in 1994, producer Butch Vig coated the same subtle slick sheen he applied to many a grunge band at the time. This time, T-Bone Burnett opts for ruddy textures, miking the drums with a single microphone and allowing some guitars to distort on tape.

The result is an intimate, imperfect and wholly human recording.