Album Review: John E Vistic – What Will Be EP

By on Wednesday, 17th June 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

John E Vistic What Will Be EP coverI first encountered Johnny V as the support act for Radio 2 favourite Jon Allen at the end of last year at Newcastle Cluny 2. Mr Allen wasn’t my cup of tea, but I found Mr John E Vistic a more interesting character, and for my own benefit, if nobody else’s, it’s worth revisiting my summary of his set: “All told, Vistic does come across as a reasonably genuine article, a young-no-longer musician just trying to make an honest penny from his bare songs.”

Nothing too controversial there, you might think. However, he took enough exception to write to me and give me a six-point plan of how better to compose a music review, including the accusation of my having a “five second attention span”. Sheesh. That’s the same as a goldfish. Come 2015, he’s releasing his newest EP, ‘What Will Be’, and I’ve managed to stop sobbing into my teacup for long enough to have a listen to it. Well, 25 seconds of it anyway, given it has five tracks. Hope that’s enough for you, Johnny?

After which preamble you might forgive me for confessing to a slight irritation that ‘What Will Be’ is actually pretty decent. The title track is an end-of-the-night waltz, perfect for that whisky-soaked smooch with a new friend: an unconventional choice for opener. Slightly more upbeat is old favourite ‘Gamblin’ Man’, with a sound signature familiar from Jon Allen’s work; no surprise, as they share a producer in Tristan Longworth. If you’re partial to a flutter and want to hear the pain of losing made music by a kindred spirit, look no further. This is also an example of Vistic’s stylistic similarity to a certain (whisper it) Robert Zimmerman – his gruff vocal delivery and tooting blues harp solo see to that – but it’s a comparison he’s not very fond of, so I’d keep it under your hat.

One has the suspicion that being radio-friendly doesn’t come naturally to Vistic: in the preceding brace of songs, he’s toning down his literary pretensions and tendency towards darkness in favour of a more immediate, if less complex, reference point. The final three tracks are surely more true representations of his inner thoughts. ‘I Wait for No Man’, with its defiant lyric and big psychedelic climax, sees him unveil the full range of that careworn voice and make large with a distortion pedal and Hammond organ. That’s more like it, frankly. ‘Long Time Gone’ is in a country-tinged rocker and introduces fellow Bristolian Katey Brooks in a bittersweet tale of self-loathing. An acoustic version ‘Til My Loneliness Has Gone’ completes the collection, appropriately embellished with a darkly portentous piano.

The only shame here is that I can’t find anything naughty enough to say that might provoke another irked response from the man himself. Yes, it’s a bit safe, a bit Radio 2, but since that station continues to demonstrate a previously unsuspected fondness for heavy metal, even that particular remark has lost its sting. And a man’s gotta earn a crust somehow, after all. Ok, I give up, I’ll have to settle for being polite. As Vistic’s ‘Gamblin’ Man’ says, “the chance is in the numbers”. So whatever that means, I’m going with it.

7/10

‘What Will Be’, the new EP from John E Vistic, is out next Monday, the 22nd of June, via Black Heart Studios. Listen to EP track ‘Long Time Gone’ featuring Katey Brooks below.

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