The acoustic-heavy opening to â€œTreadmarksâ€ is the â€œWe Didnâ€™t Start The Fireâ€-inspired â€œOne Planet â€“ One Utopia â€“ One Helmetâ€. The phrasing of the lyrics during the track is at least as random as the aforementioned Billy Joel song, without the interesting piano work to divert a critical eye from this randomness. The guitar lines, while maintaining a certain cohesion tend to break down after tremendous repetition; Johnny J Blair just does not know where to stop with this track (the nearly four minutes could conceivably be syncopated to about three, after reducing this repetition.)
â€œMusic Up Inside Of Meâ€ adds a drumming sound captured by non-traditional drumming; this would not be a big deal if it wasnâ€™t exactly what most acoustically-led (this includes a capella music) music needs, and yet the average act tends to stay away from the stomp, because of some perceived â€œlack of professionalismâ€. This taboo needed to be broken; now all that one can hope for is that other acts will take Blairâ€™s pioneering position to the next level. Thus, while tracks like â€œMusic Up Inside Of Meâ€ may find itself in nearly the same straits as the average â€œkid with an acousticâ€ in the frat house, the track itself rises above the nameless masses due to this extra bit of care shown. Each of the tracks on â€œTreadmakesâ€ are crafted with a care that will bring masses of listeners into Johnny J Blairâ€™s line of sight; one only need sit Johnny down with a guitar and watch individuals mass as ey comes out with eir soulful and catchy acoustic-rock (shown most successfully by â€œSky Criesâ€.)
However, what does come out time and time again as a minor nuisance is Blairâ€™s flouting of the line between delightful and annoying; the repetition present on â€œOne Planet â€“ One Utopia â€“ One Helmetâ€ is matched in this by the vocal (not lyrical) half-moaning, emoting that nearly wrecks â€œSomebody Loves You â€œ by extending too long in the early going. The vocal inflections that play such a large role in â€œSam Saidâ€ are truly the flipside to the weakness shown in â€œSomebody Loves Youâ€; Johnnyâ€™s vocals recall (but are not a pale imitation of) Rufus Wainwright and Warren Zevon during the track, while the harmonies achieved by eir voice recall the boy-bands of the late fifties and early sixties. Fun music that will get oneâ€™s toes tapping even if the music contained within is not at the bleeding edge of experimentation.
Top Tracks: Sam Said, Music Up Inside of Me
Johnny J Blair â€“ Treadmarks / 9 Tracks / http://www.wampus.com/artists/jjblair / http://www.wampus.com / Reviewed 27 September 2005