First Listen: John Burnette Releases Solo Album

Have you heard the latest from John Burnette?

His new untitled album went live this weekend and trust us, you need to give it a listen.

Burnette, an Arkansas native and long time musician, has crafted a lyrically driven collection of songs that are pleasant on the ears – and are far more than bubblegum.

As a storyteller, Burnette is constantly collecting scenarios and crafting them into short quips that are multidimensional in song form. He found himself writing more and more after the loss of his father, and you can feel the push and pull throughout the album between a hopeful comfort and a deeper observational nod to life’s never-ending trails of heartbreak, loss, and other elements of existential discomfort.

The mastering is top-notch. While Burnette wrote, arranged, and produced the tunes local soundman Mark Colbert was involved in the engineering and mixing. The drums were recorded in Fellowship Hall but everything else was either recorded in a makeshift isolation booth, or at the then beginnings of the now open Capitol View Studio.

In terms of genre, the album spans a wide range of style – including an brief salute to New Orleans Jazz, with touches of mountain folk, Memphis soul, and a twinge of southern twang and grit throughout. The vocals, which for fans are entirely iconic, sound familiar, a bit like your best friend – think of a cross between a modern, sultry J J Cale and a whimsical Jack Johnson and you’re not far off the mark.

To the songs.

You’re immediately drawn in with the fun, lackadaisical opening track – “Fever Dream” – which offers a hopeful, catchy ode to life’s overwhelming, never-ending trials – whether fact or fictional – which just keep coming on.

That’s enough to get you hooked and then once you are it’s hard not to find a song you like.

You want to dance? Listen to track two. “Chulo Says Sancho” is reminiscent of Spanish guitar and brass, making you want to dance and conjuring up a nostalgia you probably didn’t know you had.

Find blues in “Blue Step,” which is a general comment on life’s general state of affairs and is pretty catchy – plus it’s got one hell of a dreamy bridge. Find country twang with “She Called Him Jim,” and if you listen close enough – be ready to catch a tear or two.

In a quieter yet jazzier number, “Sometimes” can lull you into a calming, comforted sleep. On the flip side of jazz, the upbeat “Mona, Fiona, and Me” is cheeky and fun – plus the high energy makes it a quick favorite.

Get gritty with the more electric driven “Jacks, Spades, and Ladies,” which has to be the rocker of this collection.

A few quick favorites include the jaunty and lyrically superior “USS Casimir” or the closing song all about home – “Pale and Blue.”

This album is a collection of gems – and although it’s genre-hopping might be jarring to some – it shows the breath of Burnette’s technical capabilities. Plus, even in this varied album everything comes together in the warm caramels of Burnette’s voice.

Give it a listen.

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