Blue Days, Black Nights
I keep giving these Johnston discs 8/10, but if forced to choose my favourite behind Can You Fly, I’d choose Blue Days, Black Nights by a whisker. With T-Bone Burnett in the production chair, Blue Days, Black Nights doesn’t sound much different from its predecessors – if anything it’s like a more diverse, more expansive version of This Perfect World – but Johnston’s writing is less serious and more pop-oriented before and this is one of his most accessible batches of songs.
For instance, ‘Changed Your Mind’ veers almost into 70s AM rock territory with its electric piano backing and succinct guitar solo. Johnston plays piano for the pretty, poignant ‘Caught As You Look Away’, while opening ‘Underwater Life’ is bubbly and joyous. It’s hard to talk too much about these Johnston releases – he’s a master of subtlety and understatement, both things which are difficult to put down in words.
But for bargain bin aficionados, these Johnston albums are well worth hunting down – ten more slices of accomplished and economical song writing can be yours for six dollars tops.