September 15, 2002

Will Johnson "murder of tides"

I'll say it right now, and I'll say it unapologetically. Will Johnson is one of Texas' best writers. Ever heard of him? I hope you have. He's made a ton of records with his band Centro-matic (literally) and he's currently expanded his writing into not only another band, South San Gabriel, but now, with Murder of Tides, he's even decided to go solo--and solo is indeed the word for Murder of Tides. If his m.o. is to be understood, Centro-matic is his rock band, South San Gabriel focuses on the mellower moments of Centro-matic (it's also the title of one of their albums), and the solo album is to be taken literally. Other than the assistance of Centro-matic buddy Scott Danbom, he's really solo here.

Reportedly, this was recorded on Matt Pence's front porch back in the hot, hazy summer of 2001. Even if it's not true, I'd belive it anyway, because Murder of Tides is an extremely quiet record. Hell, at times, you can even hear the crickets chrip and the birds sing and the twilight noises so common with this part of the state.These noises bookend the album rather nicely, creating the front porch feeling. Murder of Tides is an instrumental record that just happens to have vocals, and as such, is more a record of mood than content.

Not that you would mind, really. In fact, it's the little things that make this record really nice. It's folk-sounding, but it's a blues record--the blues being subject to what my pa said was one simple rule: "if you have to ask, you don't know. You feel the blues, and you know it when you hear it." Maybe it's due to my raising, but to me, this is the ultimate Saturday night record, where you're sitting on the porch, with corn liquor in hand, smokes in pocket, and the dog at your leg. If you aren't from East Texas, you wouldn't understand. Or maybe you would. It's a rural thing. God bless Will Johnson for gettin' in touch with this side of his muse.

--Joseph Kyle

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