Rogue Johnsen Project – Home | Album Review

Rogue Johnsen Project – Home

Self Released

11 tracks/41 minutes

This is Rogue Johnsen’s fourth album and he’s appeared on three others with W.C. Clark, Jesse ‘Guitar’ Taylor and Chris Polk. He was schooled in his craft by Charles Brown and Ron Thompson and he has toured with Archie Bell and the Drells, W.C. Clark, and Lavelle White.  He spent many years as a sought after sideman and worked with Johnny Adams, Larry Davis, Sam Andrew and Bo Diddley. He serves up 11 original tracks here featuring his hot lap steel slide guitar and vocals. This D.C. arera artist with his Northern Virginia artists lay out some interesting tracks.

Johnsen also adds keys and percussion to the mix. Mark Saurs in on guitars and percussion and Mike Dutton is also on guitars for tracks 6, 9 and 11. Lance Foster shares the drum work with Joe Willis and Jeff Newmarch, and Daniel Willson is on violin for one track.

Johnsen displays his laid back singing from the start. His southern moaning drawl is his signature style. Nice slide and work on piano here on title track which opens the album. Guitar and organ rock out on next on “With You Gone.” Greasy piano and guitar are featured on “Here In This World,” a slow and moaning cut that is quite cool.  Next is “New Highway Song,” another slow cut. This one drags a bit.

“My Blue Soul” has a Marshall Tucker-esque or ABB guitar sound. The organ howls and Johnsen grinds out the lead vocals. Really pretty guitar work on this one. Rogue was supposedly the lone student of Charles Brown and here he does a moving and jazzy blues rendition of his “Trouble Blues.” Organ and piano take us to the sounds of NOLA as Johnsen sings with deep passion. Things get a little funky and rocking with “Nothing To Do With The Blues.” this one swings and rocks out with a cool groove. Up next is “Wake Up Late,” an acoustic cut with slick harp and a down home fiddle.

“Walkin’ Home” is a slow blues that gets down and dirty. The keys again help set the tone. “Down The Line” follows, a mash up of what sounds like surf guitar and slide guitar but results in a whirling dervish of sorts. But Johnsen takes the vocals in another direction (almost swampy) as the song twists into a unique event.  The album ends with a churchy sounding organ, barrelhouse piano, sublime guitar and groaning Gospel vocals in “Midnight Prayer.” It’s another interesting cut

Johnsen’s vocals are interesting. For my taste, they are a bit one-dimensional, kind of like California Valley Boy meets the Piedmont, but I could see folks digging his vocals. Everyone plays well and the songs are well crafted and done up nicely. Might be worth your time to take a listen or two.

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