One of the things I dislike about living in Columbia, South Carolina is the number of great musicians we seem to export to other places instead of keeping here—Jeff Johansson, for example. The former member of the late, great Petrillo Relents and Nervous System bands now calls Asheville, North Carolina home, and back in September he released his second solo disc since the move slightly north.
Face Your Own Surprise is a low-key affair, with Johansson on Wurlitzer or guitar and a minimal band backing him up featuring former members of Joltwagon including producer Greg Sipes, whose presence makes this a more fleshed-out sounding effort.
Johansson’s a laid-back vocalist even as a front man, with the sleepy Americana of songs such as “How Far?” seeping into one’s ears like a slow drip from an icicle hanging off a mountain cabin’s roofline. Like Johnny Irion, Johansson channels the spaced-out vibe of 1970’s psychedelic country rock without consciously aping it, resulting in a set of songs that’s somewhere between Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night and Devandra Bandhart’s Cripple Crow.