Freedy Johnston – The Way I Were

Music Reviews Freedy Johnston
Freedy Johnston – The Way I Were

Lo-fi demos from Midwestern songwriter make for great “lost album”

By the time he released his second disc, Can You Fly, back in 1992, Freedy Johnston had already amassed a sizable number of tunes that, for whatever reason, ended up settling to the cutting room floor. With the release of The Way I Were, these tracks will finally receive their moment in the spotlight and—like kids neglected while teams were being picked for flag football—they exude unrealized underdog potential.

Unashamedly eclectic tunes meander from the R&B-tinged melancholy of “She’s A Goddess” to the ragged, punk-like drive of “Can’t Stop Shaking,” all held together by an unaffected delivery only found in the best demos. As with his best work, the lyrics are nicely detailed and remarkably accessible, cleverly exploring lost innocence on “Captain Astro” (an ode to a long-forgotten kids’ TV show viewed through the wistful, cynical lens of adulthood) and unnamable loneliness on “Happy Birthday.” All in all, a real treasure chest.

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