Johnathan Rice – Trouble Is Real

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

You may not yet have heard of Johnathan Rice but with an upcoming support slot with REM, increasing press interest and snippets of his music appearing on a number of cult TV shows, that may be about to change. Certainly, in TROUBLE IS REAL the young Scottish-American singer songwriter has delivered a body of work worthy of the attention.

While some of the songs on the album are nothing more than strummed guitar and Rice’s smoky yarn-spinning vocals (see BREAK SO EASY or debut single BEHIND THE FRONT LINES), he is not averse to unleashing a full orchestral production on the likes of MY MOTHER’S SON and THE ACROBAT with effortlessly epic results.

Elsewhere, electronics creep into the catchy LEAVE THE LIGHT ON, and there’s a rock dynamic on SALVATION DAY and SO SWEET, but it’s the haunting VAST / Martin Grech-style CITY ON FIRE and the rousing MID NOVEMBER that leave the most lasting impression.

With the likes of James Blunt and Damien Rice making a name for themselves as the new Jeff Buckley or Bob Dylan, it seems that Johnathan Rice is entering an already crowded group. But pass him by at your peril – this is an entertaining, varied and occasionally beautiful album, and on the strength of it, he’s not likely to be unknown for much longer.

5 stars