By Keith Sharp
As Johnny Reid sat in his Nashville recording studio pondering how to address the enforced pandemic lay-off, he decided to delve into material he had previously written and decided he had enough to record a new album.
Yes, he could have written lyrics that reflected the doom and gloom of current global affairs but that’s not Reid’s style. While other artists may be writing and singing about such dismal topics, he decided an antidote was in order. Hence the release of Love Someone a 14-track collection of lyrical vignettes which collectively deliver messages of hope and renewed self-confidence.
“The positive theme of this album was intentional,” noted Reid in his distinctive Scottish accent, on the phone from his Nashville homestead. “You’ve got choices, to think positive or to think negative. The world had shut down, it was like it was raining every day so I tried to figure out how to bring a wee bit of sunshine into people’s lives. I couldn’t go play anywhere, I could have buried myself, and said `woe is me’ but that’s not my style. So, this was a good opportunity to record an album and lift me up.”
Reid was performing in Zurich Switzerland when the word got out that the pandemic was closing down all the airports and he had to scramble back to the States before quarantine orders were enforced. Realizing he had a lot of time on his hands, Reid delved into previously-written lyrics and arrangement ideas and realized that he did have enough songs for a new album. So, he rounded up a group of musicians he had been performing with, worked out some pre-production ideas and then recorded the basic tracks off the studio floor in just two days.
“We just set up some microphones and away we went,” Reid acknowledged. “We were very limited in the amount of time we could spend together, we were all separated during the recording sessions but the end result was incredible.”
Reid had special praise for Bekka Bramlett who sang backup harmonies on a number of the tracks. Bramlett is the daughter of Bonnie Bramlett (she of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends fame who performed with the likes of Joe Cocker, George Harrison and Eric Clapton in the early 1970s). “I wanted one strong backup singer and I had gotten to know Bekka many moons ago. She sang with Cocker on his last single and she did an amazing job on my record.”
Although ‘Love Someone’ was recorded in July 2020, Universal Music Canada decided, because of the pandemic, the record should not be released until the environment had improved, which gave Reid the rare opportunity to revisit the recording and tweak a few changes.
“We had doubled some of the guitars, added Irish Pipes and Bag Pipes and Bekka had sent her vocal contribution by files but the album was pretty well as it was when we recorded it,” Reid noted. “Because of the delay, I was able to use that time to refine the process, I had time to add an acoustic version of a track titled “People Like You.”
The result is a classic Johnny Reid album that reflects his romantic crooner image, 14 tracks containing positive, up-lifting messages with personal vignettes that his fan base can respond to. The point in case is the ‘Love Someone” track which clearly states that the world would be a better place if we could all get along with each other.
“It’s a call to action.” acknowledged Reid. “I wish I could walk around and see everyone wearing a tee-shirt which said ‘Love Someone’”
When asked, why he recorded a full set of 14 songs when today’s climate dictates that music is downloaded one track at a time, Reid responded by saying “People tell me we are living in a `singles’ world but I believe an album is an album that should be listened to from the beginning to end, the songs being all tied together.”
Since arriving in Canada from his native Scotland in 1988 as a youngster, graduating from high school in the Toronto suburb of Brampton and moving on to attend Bishop’s University in Lennoxville Quebec, where he started performing in local taverns and coffee houses, there has always been a misconception about Reid’s musical image.
Tagged as a Country Music artist in Canada, Reid has won a staggering total of 26 Canadian Country Music Awards and six Juno Awards. But even the most ardent Country fan will admit, Reid is much more than just a Country music artist.
“I have been influenced by all forms of music,” Reid allowed. “Frankie Miller, Charlie Rich, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, all of these artists have influenced me. Why would I just make a Country album? why would I just make an R&B album? why would I just make a rock album? when I can make a Johnny Reid album?”
Having now recorded 13 studio albums, his last one being a Christmas release (`My Kind Of Christmas Deluxe version in 2020) Reid is aware that although he has made inroads in the U.S and is popular in Europe and Australia, Canada is still his strongest market (he still owns a house in Caledon Ont. despite living in Nashville for the past 21 years). And his Tartan Army will be delighted to know that plans are falling into place to spend five months in Canada starting in February, performing some 100 shows across the dominion. But the big difference will be that instead of taking out a full ensemble that has included up to 15 support musicians, Reid intends to strip it down to just a bare-bones acoustic set-up.
“I don’t want to play any big rooms, I want to play places I have never played before. Instead of playing before 10,000 people in Winnipeg, I want to play 10 dates in front of 1,000 people,” Reid noted. “In the past, we’ve gone out with an entourage of like 54 people. That’s just too big for many venues. So, I have created a record that will allow me to take it into smaller rooms and perform for multiple nights in certain locations.”
For further information on his upcoming tour, please link to https://www.johnnyreid.com
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