Moody, hushed, pensive, Centro-matic and South San Gabriel frontman Will Johnson’s new album Scorpion stings softly—the raw, off-the-cuff music an unexpected cradle for his expressive whisper. Listening to this record is an experience akin to the healing solitude of a pre-dawn stroll through a mostly silent forest, arriving at the top of a mountain peak just in time for the sun’s first rays to break over the horizon. Understated polyrhythms emerge and vanish as mysteriously as they appear. At turns, the wis
On Scorpion, Johnson registers the subtle vibrations of family, love, isolation, spirituality and wonder with the seismograph eyes of a keen, immeasurably sensitive artist perched inconspicuously on the periphery of a rich, tumultuous world that’s at once sad, beautiful and vibrant—alive with the serene poetry of his lyrics, and the thick-swathed oil colors of his sonic paintbrush.
Scorpion is Johnson’s first solo album in eight years, an arresting polaroid of five consecutive days spent recording on the wooded outskirts of Denton, Texas, at the studio of longtime bandmate, producer and engineer Matt Pence. It was a midwinter session, the vibe reflected in the rippling pool of the title song’s lyrics: “Honey, war is woven in our touch/But there’s promise in our sleep / The warmth is strangled by the clutch of winter’s long release.”