Despite the dramatic change in the style of his music to something that sounds highly professional on his latest album, Is and Always Was, Daniel Johnston’s fans keep coming back.’ The new style, which is a decided step away from the lo-fi songs he is known and loved for, may have come as a surprise, but Daniel Johnston hasn’t isolated any fans.
At 48-years-old, Johnston is back on tour, looking familiar and just as friendly, but his sound is different.’ Promoting his newest album, which he co-produced with Jason Falkner ‘-‘- the same Jason Falkner who co-produced artists like Beck and Air, neither folk artists nor singer-songwriters.
When asked, ‘Why?’ Johnston didn’t really know why the change to studio-produced songs.’ He said his brother, who is also his tour manager, set it up.
‘I really think this new album is one of my favorites,’ Johnston said in a phone interview with the MUSE.’ Simple, unrefined, unprofessional and unmatched lyrics make this album unmistakably Johnston’s, despite the high tech distractions.
Judging from the crowd at the last week’s show at the Paradise, Johnston is still like a prophet leading disciples. Perhaps it’s safe to say that a crowd that commiserates is a crowd that stays.
Johnston began his set last Thursday on stage alone, accompanied only by a music stand that held his sheet music. His hands trembled.’ His voice was direct. His performance fulfilled the promise that his legend provokes with the songs, ‘Isolation,’ and ‘Life in Vain.’
There was an at-home atmosphere. A few fans sang along but it was more an event to witness.’ Very Beatles-heavy, some parts of the show felt like an ode to Johnston’s favorite band; however, the way he performed them was a real treat for the audience.
In the second set, a rock band called ‘The Capitol Years’ joined Johnston on stage.’ From here, things felt a bit uncomfortable, simply because the band’s new and trendy style (all of the guys were younger than thirty) created an imbalance that could not compete with the simplicity of Johnston’s solo stage.’ Suddenly, no more folksy ballads ‘-‘- this was a rock show and Johnston, taking advantage of the atmosphere his younger-counterparts created, ended the evening jamming out.