Johnny Coull is a singer-songwriter and a first-rate storyteller with a sound somewhere between Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. His album, City on the Hill, was released in November of 2013. It is Coull’s first studio album and is a time capsule bursting with joyous sounds. Coull takes the 70's Americana rock tradition and mixes in folksy-bluesy, piano centric music. Coull, a seasoned pianist, generates bright piano work that is a refreshing rumpus on the music scene.
Coull wrote the songs on City on the Hill in a three-month period in the fall of 2012 and then introduced the in-progress music to the band. Collaboration with his band enriched the creative process and contributed to the final product. Johnny Coull’s band is made up of Olivier Boyer-Masutti on guitar and Al McElcheran and Mike Hand on bass and drums. City on the Hill was recorded and mixed by Gaetan Pilon at Studio Victor in Montreal, QC.
“Addicted to Love” is a sunny sounding tune that is heavy on metaphor. Coull wraps a story of unreachable love and intimacy disputes in a beautiful package. “Losing” is also heaving in content but bright in sound. “Losing” tells the story of addiction and illness. There is no redemption or healing in this song. The song’s characters are forced to face the actuality of life. Coull sings that things are getting real and “it isn’t like in the movies.” He adds that they were losing from the start, possibly alluding to the cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse in our modern society.
The title track, “City on the Hill,” is a tender love story. This ballad captures the value of youth and the power of adoration in both lyrics, piano and voice work. I can just picture two sweet, old people dancing slowly to this song.
Throughout the album, Coull tells a story. As a whole work of art, the album creates a setting, develops character and explores the concept of home, love and loss. Look for Johnny Coull on tour through eastern Canada this winter and listen to his album.
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