Canyon City’s Paul Johnson is Chattanooga-based by way of North Dakota, Nashville and Brooklyn. Amid all these life changes, he’s released three full-length albums and four EPs since 2015. His newest track, “OK,” follows his third album, April’s Bluebird, and premieres here at Paste today (Oct. 16) ahead of its Oct. 18 release. Johnson wrote the song following his move from Brooklyn to Chattanooga with his wife, and explores the insights that can arise out of challenging new circumstances.
“Hey, I’m not OK,” confesses Johnson, struggling with this “fun [and] adventurous but also really, at times, disorienting season” of his life, “But I’m better than I was.” The new single recalls Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Gregory Alan Isakov, pairing hushed vocals with mellow acoustic guitar. Johnson shared his thoughts on “OK” in a statement to Paste, calling it a “love song” that acknowledges imperfection:
“OK” is an honest love song about the incremental yet meaningful path that a relationship story can take while throwing off the social [or] social media pressures of perfection. The distilled message is “I’m not at the finish line of who I want to be, but you’re the person I want to be heading there with.” I’ve written and sung a lot about loneliness, a lot about searching, and so in this story of “finding” I wanted to veer away from idealization and be really honest with how that actually feels—human, transitional, but worthwhile. “OK” was co-produced by Zachary Kuykendall, who added the lush orchestration and really elevated the song with his mastery of textures.
Listen to “OK” below.