The 1970’s still conjure up a lot of inspiration these days. The indie rock and Americana explosion of the last decade has not been entirely original. There is always someone else to draw from. In the case of Johnny Bertram, it appears as though his roots in Idaho, and his current residency in Mississippi, have had more than just a regional blessing on his own special concoction of modern folk and rockabilly on his debut full length album, Days That Passed, featuring his brilliant backup band The Golden Bicycles.
“Private Land” is comparable in so many ways to early Neil Young, before his days with Crosby. It has a high glow of electricity that consummates a perfectly trimmed sense of self-righteousness every time he pronounces “we don’t give a damn”. But, old Johnny isn’t too eccentric to break it down into a slow groove with tracks like “At The Wake” or “Alive”. The compassionate side of America that we all wish would show its distinguishable face can be found on tracks like these. Harmonicas and fiddles spew their comforting sounds throughout these simple melodies, and they do so throughout the entirety of Days That Passed.
Johnny Bertram is quite the musician. But, his songwriting should not go unnoticed. These tracks speak of a life that most of us will never know. He speaks of pain and horrific incidents that, for your E-Z chair, you watch on your LCD television hoping the world doesn’t shit on you as bad as it has on others. But he also speaks of hope. He speaks of breath. And he speaks with ease. For Bertram to be able to spread these words with such a brilliant backup band has to make him feel like one a lucky flower child lost in time.
Download: “At The Wake” by Johnny Bertram
[audio:100518-johnny-bertram-at-the-wake.mp3|titles=At The Wake|artists=Johnny Bertram]
Download: “Private Land” by Johnny Bertram
[audio:100518-johnny-bertram-private-land.mp3|titles=Private Land|artists=Johnny Bertram]
Esperanza Plantation [CD, 2010]
1. Where I Begin
3. Private Land
4. Rocky Springs
7. The Fall
8. Good Friend
9, Watching The Storm
10. At The Wake
11. Great Divide