Personnel: Jeremy S.H. Griffith, Walter Hill , Jonathan Berlin, Drew Taubenfeld (guitar); Abner Ramirez (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Lewis Patzner (cello); Anton Patzner (strings); Markus Huber (upright bass); Rico Allen (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jeremy S.H. Griffith.
Recording information: The Birthing Suite, Burbank, CA.
Photographer: Darren Lau.
On Georgica Pond, Nashville husband-and-wife duo Johnnyswim wind down the party of their vibrant debut in favor of wholesome, pastoral nourishment that chronicles the experiences of the young couple as they navigate married life and a newly formed family. This sophomore release is a natural progression for Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez -- both the comedown following the rollicking ride of Diamonds and the emotional next step on their shared journey in life. Georgica Pond combines American folk with Southern soul rooted in the blues and country. While slickly produced, there's a lot of heart and a sense of nostalgia present. This is mostly due to their strong vocals, which flow effortlessly between one another, their spousal interplay a smooth and effective vehicle for both the music and confessional lyrics. Whether they're conveying the wonderful highs or the bittersweet lows of relationships, it's enough to elicit a flood of relatability and understanding. The magical "In My Arms" is a sweeping duet that would fit perfectly in a Disney movie or a cut from an old romance musical. The sentimental hymnal "Touching Heaven" is a similarly uplifting affair, and features their son Joaquin and a church choir. The gorgeous highlight "Summertime Romance" is a sumptuous ode to their love story, with a sweeping, string-drenched coda. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the urgent "Villains" and the heartbreaking "Say Goodnight Instead" lay bare the struggles that any couple might face. A cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" also raises an eyebrow, as Sudano sings "this girl is only gonna break your heart." Joyful or mournful, Georgica Pond provides both, but it's the stand-out title track that devastates the most. A moving tearjerker sung by a parent to a child, it faces mortality head on, lamenting that "time is the worst kind of friend/always there 'til you need it, then gone in the end." Sudano's voice cracks delicately, instructing her child to scatter her remains over the eponymous waters and promising to always be a lighthouse when he needs it. It's the absolute heart of the album and the tune most likely to inspire quiet weeping. For fans of their previous output, the toe-tapping "Lonely Night in Georgia" features Ramirez and Sudano's best harmonizing and a show-stopping Vince Gill guitar solo, while "Drunks" is sure to be a hit in their live shows, a rousing Mumford-sized anthem about the musical legacy that they'll leave behind. Georgica Pond is deeply moving, a maturation both in their sound and their personal lives that will reward listeners going through similar changes. ~ Neil Z. Yeung