Genres:Folk, Country - Contemporary/Pop, Country - Alternative, Alternative Pop, Pop - Adult Contemporary, Rock - Roots Rock, Rock - Alternative Pop , Blues - Acoustic
Libby Johnson''s debut solo album on Wrong Records signals the evolution of a major musical artist. And ''Annabella'' and those well of singing and songwriting talent could make Libby a household name by the end of 2006.
Yet, it was a long road to this point. Her previous musical career has been dominated by the beloved and critically acclaimed "tunefully intense" (Billboard) New York City band 22 Brides, formed with her sister Carrie. "There was a place in me that felt like I can''t do this by myself," she allows, adding, "There''s a deep place in my heart for that band. I loved working with my sister. But I am ready to let go of the band in a really positive way."
Johnson''s remarkable songs often took shape in unexpected places, such as the bathroom. "I wrote ''Don''t Mean You Lost Your Love'' sitting in my bathroom. I write a lot of songs sitting on the end of my bathtub. The acoustics are great in there." A driving folk-rock gem, "Don''t Mean You Lost Your Love" would sound familiar to fans of the Cowboy Junkies or Tom Petty but Libby''s voice lends the song additional power.
She adds, "When I write songs, I just pick up an instrument and something usually comes out of it. It''s an impressionistic process."
Of "Annabella," Johnson says, "I wrote that song one day when I was really sick. I had laryngitis when I was singing it. We took the demo and added [drummer] Steve [Jordan''s] parts." The effect has a desperate, rasping edge added to Johnson''s versatile voice atop a blues-rooted groove.
She explains, "The song is really what the Annabella character wishes she could hear someone say to her. She''s remembering a feeling she had for someone, wishing it were still there and longing for it to come back."
Producer and Wrong Records chief Daniel Wise recorded ''Annabella'' with a veteran band at The Shed in New York, where artists from John Mayer to Rod Stewart, Herbie Hancock to the North Mississippi All Stars have previously recorded. The resulting eleven-track album shows co-producer Johnson to be a multi-faceted singer, musician and songwriter and an artist of singular vision.
Then Hollywood came calling.
After Wise played a few tracks for "Trust The Man" writer-director Bart Freundlich, the latter was stunned and decided to edit several scenes around Johnson''s music. Julianne Moore, who stars in the New York-set romantic comedy alongside David Duchovny, Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal, said, "Libby''s music is so soulful and heartfelt. What she''s done for this film reminds me of what Aimee Mann did for Magnolia."
Johnson says, "I think that the themes of the film and the songs on my record had a commonality and that''s why they worked well together. We were both writing about disharmony, resolution and the struggles that go on in a relationship, and the record and film both really speak to that."
22 Brides'' three albums, released in the 1990s on Zero House/Universal, landed the Johnson sisters on World Café, and Lilith Fair tour in 1998. 22 Brides paid its dues on the road, headlining and opening for artists Ani DiFranco and Freedy Johnston. Though ''Annabella'' represents Johnson''s first solo foray, she does not rule out the possibility of another Brides record.
But ''Annabella'' proves that she is able to strongly command her talents on her own.