Dylan Lee Johnston & The Good Word is a living, breathing American Roots Folk Orchestra with nods to New Orleans Soul and a Southern Gospel aesthetic, consisting of Dylan Lee Johnston, Megan Palmer, Cody Barnhill, Ryan Braun, Chris Lesesne, Galen Ballinger & Wyatt Wooding.
Dylan Lee Johnston is a native Alaskan, born and raised in an off the grid lifestyle on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. Living in recent years between Nashville and New Orleans. Intentionally seeking out a musical education by carefully observing his cultural history and inheritance in the streets and the smoky dim of southern barrooms first hand. "Part poet, part blues drenched singer-songwriter" Johnston's music is marked by a life on the lesser traveled roads, fueled by heartbreak, loss, longing & love. He is currently touring his debut record Just Like Rain.
Megan Palmer hails from Columbus, Ohio and has deep roots in the south where she now lives in Tennessee after pursuing her musical career in New York City and touring the U.S. with a number of noteworthy acts including Tim Easton, Amy Speace, Nellie Clay, Darrin Bradbury & Dylan Lee Johnston. Palmer's music is soulful and intuitive, grounded in her classical education in violin and piano and accentuated with a sound that can only be acquired after many years on the road, touring with acts that range from Psychedelic Rock n Roll to Folk to Country. From the honky tonk's of Nashville to the far reaches of Alaska, Europe and India, Palmer is now touring her latest work, What She's Got to Give.
Johnston & Palmer crossed paths in an unlikely and timely meeting while on tour in Alaska, five years ago. Megan in Alaska on tour from New York City and Dylan, a native Alaskan, visiting from his adopted home, Portland, Oregon. The two have since formed a deep-rooted musical connection, both relocating to Nashville, Tennessee and recording two full length albums. Johnston's debut album Just Like Rain and Palmer's fourth studio release What's She's Got To Give were both recorded with Patrick Damphier at Club Roar in Nashville this year and display a common thread in Folk, Roots and Americana influences, while delving deeper into the sounds of Soul and Rock N Roll.
Dylan Lee Johnston & The Good Word is the next chapter of Johnston's developing live sound after his debut release, Just Like Rain. Thoughtfully carrying over the hard-lined classic Motown and Soul sounds of Just Like Rain and seamlessly blending it with his blood and bones Blues moan saturated with soulful Gospel arrangements. Palmer is instrumental in this live American Roots ensemble, alongside an eclectic lineup delivering an unmistakeable southern soul sound.
Dylan Lee johnston
"You can infer a lot about a person's record collection, influences and worldly experiences just from listening to their original songs. You will know if they bothered to dig farther back and listen to the things that inspired their heroes to create. You will know if they ever wandered the world, if they are well traveled.
The debut album of Dylan Lee Johnston, Just Like Rain, is the story of a poet traveling through the darkness of the world, seeking out those who can point him towards the light.
Just Like Rain is most certainly a worldly collection of songs inspired in equal parts by New Orleans street soul, the ghettos of Kingston, Toots & The Maytals, Tom Waits, Elliott Smith, The Clash and a youth spent on the road following the Grateful Dead.
The Debut Album was recorded at Club roar in Nashville, TN. The man behind the knobs was engineer/producer Patrick Damphier (Fielddays, Angel Olson, Stone Jack Jones, Minabirds) who also lent his considerable skills as bassist and drummer on many tracks.
"Please Don't Go" is a three chord summer smash. Thumping radio rhythms and pure rock n roll swagger with existential lyrics pushing towards a youthful Carpe Diem.
"What if I cannot overcome my mortality? And tonight is the only night and after this I'll be free?"
Other musicians on Just Like Rain include Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, REM) who lent his chops on the pedal steel throughout the record, Sam Doores (The Deslondes, Hurray for the Riff Raff) graced the record booth with his blues harp & barbershop harmonies along with Sallie Ford, Ariel Bui & Megan Palmer singing harmonies, keys, violin and harmonium. Brian Wright dropped into the recording sessions with his harmonica and delta blues whine as well as Kai Welch and Aaron Till's soulful arrangements and motown symphony and horn sections, backing Galen Ballinger's cacophony of sound and edgy lead guitar stylings throughout the record.
Poetry was inside the Rock n Roll spirit of Patti Smith and it returns to us again here and now in the lyrics and experience of Dylan Lee Johnston."
"Megan Palmer's music is born from finding her way. Starting in Ohio where she performed with local heroes The Spikedrivers, she explored New York City before venturing to Nashville, TN where she's made a stunningly honest and adeptly produced album entitled What She's Got To Give.
Produced by Patrick Damphier at Nashville's Club Roar Studio, and recorded in 6 days of mostly live tracking, this album features the stellar contributionsof Jon Radford, Tony Scherr, Larry Cook,Tim Easton and Amy Speace.
What She's Got To Give serves as both a defining moment in Megan's artistic journey and a chance to further define herself among her peers.
"It was about facing truth, fear, rejection, anger, love and loss...It's sort of me reclaiming myself as the person or writer I want to represent myself as. I have to have a transformative moment in my writing…take the anger and figure out a non destructive way to get out of it,"
The rough and tumble, ramshackle roll of the album's opener, The Only Trumpet is beautifully juxtaposed with Palmer's assuredly yet casually delivered singing. The album's title track What She's Got To Give begins with such beauty and simplicity you wonder if you've heard it somewhere before? Lyrically, it's the kind of song that only comes along if you're willing to scare yourself to death. The album progresses and rolls in some Stonesy honky tonk barroom brawls, Beatlesesque rock'n'roll pop, sweet and sparkling edginess, lush harmonies and ethereal clouds of slide guitar that crescendo into another plane by way of faded delay and distant reverb.
This record leaves the impression that Megan is one of those rare people who truly care. (She spends her spare nights and days as a Palliative Care Nurse at Vanderbilt University Hospital). She expertly communicates in her songs her sense of kindness and compassion even when there's good reason to behave otherwise. It’s not just something she says, it's also who she is as an artist and person.
What She's Got To Give is another new and beautiful beginning for Palmer. What's to follow for her promises to be just as brilliant as what she's done and it leaves us wanting more from a new brilliant and powerful voice."
-Aaron Lee Tasjan
"Part poet, part blues drenched singer-songwriter, and resident musician Dylan Lee Johnston has soaked up the Nashville scene, making friends with some well known Music City artists in the process. Convincing some of these friends, including area legend Tim Easton, to help him with his debut record, Just Like Rain, which dropped earlier this year, Dylan may be on the fast track to not just local, but national acclaim."
- No Country for New Nashville
"Within a few soulful seconds, "Just like Rain" displays substance and skill...[Johnston] strikes me as a man who knows how to take the energy of the stage into the studio...“Rainchecks” evokes nostalgia. It reaches toward the listener smoothly escorting them to the dance floor, with enough organ to keep a sway going. Full of dreamy but specific imagery, "Rainchecks" caters to both mind’s eye and listener’s ear"
"...In the smoky dim of a Nashville dive, Johnston met Bucky Baxter '...without knowing who he was.' Baxter, a guitarist who’s played with the likes of Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, R.E.M. and Ryan Adams, formed a friendship with Johnston, and would later join him in the studio...“Negotiations”, being one of the two songs Baxter is featured on, is a more relatable number. Colored with blue hues of the small town daily sort, Baxter’s pedal steel is equally charming as it is sorrowful."
"..."Please Don’t Go" is easily a crowd favorite. Rollicking guitar, and organ delivered with a wink of indie rock, it churns with a sweet sentiment. The percussion gives a determined anthem-like quality..."St. Luke's" is a standout. It's accented claps tempt with opportunity for live audience participation...Its chorus is a catch more than one person will end up bringing home. The driving tempo complements guitar that seems to juke..."Turpentine" was a highlight for me. With both upright and electric bass, organ, and oh-so delicate but deliberate keys, Turpentine combines sturdy grit with precision tenderness; the romance between jaw-line and straight-edged razor blade; an ode to a less traditionally celebrated muse, the storyline is one of contrast and multiple view points. "Turpentine" exits like a film noir on a fader. With footprints of sound that rise and ebb, it almost mirrors its characters."
"It’s difficult to dismiss the southern spirits that seem to manifest throughout the title track. Johnston has a way of marrying jazz with other influences seamlessly, which is showcased well here. Palmer’s piano in company with the rake and 2X6 Dylan employs baptize "Just Like Rain" with an eerie essence. The song progresses as though a City of the Dead was lying in wait for Dylan’s twang-tinged persona to ramble in and free the inhabitants."
"Johnston’s knowledge of Americana, R&B, honky-tonk, rock, rockabilly, blues, country, soul, and jazz humbly pour through the album. His ability to translate the unspoken language of little worlds he’s lived into a varied tangible format with flow speaks of his personal and artistic mindfulness. Substantial skill and a love for music history make Dylan Lee Johnston one to watch amongst younger musicians."
"He manages to craft a piece with vintage nods that still comes off as fresh and relevant. As a whole, "Just Like Rain" has enough energetic optimism to remain vibrant, and enough ego restraint to allow the listener a cove for their own introspection. Dylan Lee Johnston’s rendition of a road of wander is articulated skillfully for a debut, leaving me in hopeful anticipation..."
- Anchorage Press
"One of the many notable qualities of Just like Rain, Dylan Lee Johnston’s Nashville debut, is the subtle use of rattling chains and rumbling steel as secondary percussive instruments. These elements offer a hardline industrial underbelly to music of an otherwise pristinely recorded album, an album showcasing the Alaskan songwriter’s deep affection for American soul and gospel music. The songs themselves play out as honest, intriguing accounts into the insights of the artist (and lover) as outsider. “They can’t see my plan,” Johnston sings in “Nevermind,” the final cut off the record. If Just like Rain is any indication, Johnston’s plan is to write, record, and release music in a unique DIY fashion that honors the willful tradition of artistic outsiders. The album shines through ten tracks of layered sonic wizardry with stylistic nods to Tom Waits and Curtis Mayfield, including a sly welcomed reference to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. With rumbling steel and rattling chains to serve as allusion, Dylan Lee Johnston demonstrates his ability to be a strong link in the long impressive chain of antiestablishment American songwriters."
- Abandon Press
"Dylan Lee Johnston is a deserving soul and going somewhere..."
- Bucky Baxter
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