There’s no cruise control for musician Scott Albert Johnson.
His latest effort, “Going Somewhere,” released in early summer, his first full length project since 2007’s “Umbrella Man.” Six and half years in the making from early sessions at Terminal Studios until release day, Johnson says life happened.
“That first session in fall of 2008, we cut the building blocks of four songs,” he recounts. “I thought, ‘We made a lot of progress, this will go quick.’”
But a combination of finding the resources to pay for studio time and hiring musicians, coupled with raising children and starting a new career (Johnson is a college counselor for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School), recording took a back seat. “I could have done more covers and simpler arrangements and put it out faster. For me to put out the album I wanted to make, it’s just taken awhile.”
Johnson’s music has always been a mix of a lot of things. While it comes from a rock and singer- songwriter sensibility, a lot of blues, jazz, folk and funk are thrown in, always peppered by his smooth harmonica.
“Going Somewhere” substantively flows with a sense of movement. The theme, the Fondrenite says, is progression. “We’re all going somewhere as a person, as a community, a species or a country.”
Seven of the nine tracks are originals, helped along with a handful of co-writers. Johnson takes on a Peter Gabriel cover, “I Don’t Remember,” and goes into the way back machine for another. “I discovered this song, ‘Haunt My Dreams’ on a cassette an old band mate back in D.C. used to play fifteen years ago,” he says. I tracked down the writer, Brett Winston, and asked for his blessing to record it.” Happily, the Tennessee-based songwriter obliged, even contributing guitar tracks and background vocals remotely from his own studio.
Rob Mercurio and Jeff Raines of Galactic get session credits on the title track, but it’s Jackson players like Denny Burke and Chalmers Davis who shine on “Going Somewhere,” recorded mostly at Davis’ home studio in Terry. New Orleans’ The Living Room studio and St. Andrew’s Performing Arts Center in Ridgeland also served the project, unified, Johnson says, by the talented engineers who mixed the album.
Johnson has recently returned from the Chicago Blues Festival, invited to play on the Jackson stage, sponsored by the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau. He shared that honor with The House Rockers, JJ Thames, and Jarekus Singleton and says it was cool to be part of the tradition of that festival and be on the same stage with that caliber of talent. Upcoming dates include stops on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, and closer to home, The Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival (August 15) and Fondren’s First Thursday (September 3).
College preparatory counselor by day, musician by night, Johnson has the support of wife Susan Margaret and his kids – Charlie (9), Benjamin (8), and Lily Margaret (6). Moving through life, facing challenges and celebrating success – going somewhere together. “That,” he says, “is most important to me.”
“Going Somewhere” by Scott Albert Johnson is available online from iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, CD Baby and other e-tailers, and can be purchased locally at Lemuria Bookstore.Â For more information, go to scottalbertjohnson.com.