Johns & Nowak “Johns & Nowak” (Independent, 2016)

johns-nowak-2016Debut EPs often function as a calling card for new acts, showing the range of what they can do and this five (six on CD) is no exception.  It has a couple of originals, three covers from Sean Watkins, Bill Monroe and Gillian Welch & David Rawlings and something of a curveball in a slowed down stark take on “Bad Moon Rising”.  Andy Nowak takes most of the lead vocals and plays guitar while Camilla Johns handles mandolin duties and the occasional vocal.  The style is stripped back and sparse, the vocal tone ranges from wistful to mournful and the results are classy and compelling.

The delicate instrumental “Spider On The Headstock”, which has a beautiful autumnal melody that is simply picked out and barely accompanied, is the standout but their version of Welch & Rawlings “Wayside/Back In Time” challenges the original and confirms that there is some serious talent here.  This is music that demands you listen to it rather than just stick it on as background and shows real promise.  Hopefully an album will be along soon.

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