Keith "Wonderboy" Johnson
Keith 'Wonderboy' Johnson continues to rejuvenate the quartet scene with New Season his Verity Records debut.
There’s ample reason to stand up and cheer, with the quality of songs that issue from the artist’s pen. No wonder they call him ‘Wonderboy’. He’s the complete package writer, vocalist, entertainer, and minister.
In addition to penning several of the album's fourteen songs, Johnson brings in a crew of lesser known, but greatly gifted writers to round out his song selection.
Among them are Prathan Williams on
"Come On And See About Me" and Kevin Cloud who pens "The Lord's Been Good To Me", just to name a few. In the mix of the steady drive of quartet music, a chance to add a twist or an infusion of a fresh sound doesn’t go unnoticed.
"The Lord’s Been Good To Me” shows Johnson’s ability to find the mid-tempo pocket and hang his hat on a ride that relies equally on lyrical excellence and musical drive. Johnson lays his gloriously rough-hewn solo pipes over repeated harmonies of the chorus.
“I Need Your Help” is another straight-up drive that will get your toes to tappin’.
Johnson puts out quieter grooves on songs such as “Afterwhile” and “I’ll Give You Praise”, harnessing the power of harmony and piano to reflect on God’s goodness and greatness.
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The latter cut, written by Derrick Adams, is particularly effective, with Tyrone Jackson’s acoustic guitar fostering the right atmosphere, and some nicely layered harmonies (Johnson with Ray Braswell Jr.) turning on comfortable chord changes.
Also on the mellow vibe is “Forgive Me Lord” that focuses more on the never-ending mercy God shows us.
New Yorkers will note that Johnson’ interpretation of Luther Barnes’ meandering “Somehow, He Takes Us Through It All” includes instrumentation and production from David Caton and backing vocals from Timiney Figueroa-Caton.
On “He’ll Do It Again”, Johnson works with songwriter Barbara Mitchell (Beverly Crawford, Vernessa Mitchell) a song, which amply highlights Johnson’s Harlem Boy's Choir developed vocals.
Longtime Wonderboy collaborator Spanky Williams produces much of the project, bringing a tried and true element to the table. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Williams proves this again and again, and New Season is no exception.
Never straying from the steadiness of quartet, but blending contemporary sounds and volumes of personality, Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson has created a formula that is uniquely his. Embracing history and tradition while forging on to the future makes for a delightful and exciting present.
It is indeed a New Season, and with the success that is sure to come with this release, it would seem that it is also due season.
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album release date: April 20, 2004
review by Stan North and Melanie Clark —
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