A River Running To Your Heart
Only six months after his successful sophomore stint with Bonny Light Horseman, which wowed the world with immediately classic songs like “California,” Eric D. Johnson is back with his high soulful voice and a tenth album with his original band, Fruit Bats. “It weighs heavily on me — the notion of place,” Johnson says about the album, A River Running to Your Heart. “The places I’ve been and the places I want to go.”
Whether it’s Takoma, “where the smell of the salt water mixes / with the stink of the paper mill”; or Los Angeles, which has “some kind of glow to it / when the light’s just right,”; or his old home when “we were the perfect age / and the rent was low,” Johnson captures in picture perfect poetry the elusive feeling of home. “We, we all want a home—metaphorical or real / Some place to make us feel whole.”
The album begins with one of his metaphorical homes, his wife, who has “been good since you came outta the womb.” Whether it’s his relationship with his wife, or his relationship with his listeners, his arrangements are full of love for the other and himself, and the exploration of a seasoned writer who knows just how to tug on the heart strings. There is even a song on the album about how lucky he is to have “made a life by the sea writing poetry / a way to make a living of which you never coulda dreamed.”
The songs are fairly simple and folky, like much of the Fruit Bats’ material before it, focusing on Johnson’s golden voice, but adding the perfect flourishes of guitar or piano scales to make them sophisticated art. He is a master songwriter, that is certain. One of the highlights of the album is the song, “It All Comes Back,” his encouragement, it seems, as we come out of a three year pandemic. “We lost some time / But we can make it back / Let’s take it easy on ourselves, okay?” “It’s like ridin’ a bike.”
Throughout the album is Johnson’s signature encouragement through song, begging us, even, on the second to last song, “Never go into the deep well.” His voice, which has become part of the spiritual landscape of America in the last so many years, buoys us in hard times and sings thankfulness for our good times. As he sings on the last song of the album, “Jesus Tap Dancing Christ, feels good to be home.”
Pre-order A River Running To Your Heart by Fruit Bats HERE
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