Freedy Johnston, Ericksons | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Freedy Johnston, Ericksons Recommended Member Picks Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Thu., June 4, 9 p.m. 2009

It’s been eight years since Freedy Johnston released Right Between the Promises, still his most recent studio effort, but the dry spell is ending—a new album of original material is due from Bar/None in the fall. I’m not counting a quickie covers collection called My Favorite Waste of Time, released in 2007 by Johnston’s Singing Magnet imprint, but it’s nonetheless instructive: just as his own warm, catchy tunes are full of unexpected melodic shapes, Waste of Time is full of unexpected choices. Johnston sings two of Paul McCartney’s most reviled songs, “Listen to What the Man Said” and “Let ’Em In,” freeing the lovely melodies from their cheesy arrangements. He also covers the Hollies and Matthew Sweet, as well as (less successfully) the Dionne Warwick hit “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.” Even the missteps remind me of what I love about Johnston’s music: with his reedy, subdued voice, he brings real intimacy and believability to everything he tackles, even stuff that’s cliched or that seems like an awful fit. For this show he’ll play mostly new material in a duo with longtime running buddy Jay Moran; if the three tracks from the upcoming album on his MySpace page are any indication, he hasn’t lost his sharp eye or his touch for love songs that are dark and prickly instead of warm and fuzzy. The Ericksons open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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