Nick Johnson’s new single is in a word, timely. It comes across as his response to the current social climate, and the derision it seems tinged with. The song is un-ironically titled “Spread Love,” and Johnson seems committed to expressing just how much he means it. Starting off with a subtle roll on the cymbal, a reasonable tone of distortion gets the track rolling. It’s got energy, but is also subdued, which satiates the taste of a potentially wider audience.
If I had to classify Johnson, I would probably go with adult contemporary. His music feels alive, yet conscientious. It has a bit of an early to mid 2000’s feel, that is typically associated with Singer-Songwriters of the pop rock variety. Johnson, wouldn’t be out of place, with say a Daniel Powter, or a Gavin Degraw, Pandora station. The one takeaway with this track, as far as Johnson goes,, is that he is fully invested in his message.
Johnson is unwavering in his optimism, and he opts to advocate by example. “Spread Love” encapsulates the state of being that inspired it, as well as the vibe it aspires to create. Much like Johnson as an artist, it carries a lot of splendor, and isn’t encumbered by being overly self-aware. Music with a message, can seem out of place, in a climate often wrought, with self-description, or at best, deeply introspective diving. This is the type of Song that is most effective, when it’s discovered by accident, or at a moment, when such a sentiment is most needed.
There is an accompanying Music Video that does a fine job of illuminating the potent simplicity of the Song’s message. It plays out over a single shot of Johnson walking down a sidewalk, in what appears to be Brooklyn, judging by his t-shirt. We see him doing a series of polite deeds, which may or may not be contrived, but come across as natural, as his alacrity is on full display. He also sports a clear face mask, which gives the video a sense of modernity. The highlight might be the moment where Johnson pulls an Eddie Van Halen signature eruption style guitar, that he proceeds to perform an impressive solo on.
Johnson’s Vocal work is emblematic, and his passion is latent. I assume he plays most if not all of the instruments on the track. It gives the song a signature touch, and allows him to further accentuate the meaning of the piece. There are moments where the vocal falls a little behind the tempo,but such examples of perfectionism are a contrast to the overall objective. The Heart of “Spread Love” is its essence, and of that, there is no absence.
“Spread Love” is not a groundbreaking or innovative piece, but it is a noteworthy one. When Johnson Sings, You’re next breath/just might be your last, it certainly strikes a nerve. Especially, when you consider the unprecedented loss we have incurred in the past year. Nick Johnson’s message, might be a bit of a harder sell to the more cynical of audiences, but at the very least it is a beam of light to shed on the darkness. Spreading Love, Johnson, opines, is taking off like a rocket; we can certainly hope, he’s right.
by Mark Ryan