Pennsylvania-based 'singer at large' Johnny J Blair creates pop music hailing from sources as diverse as Motown, Tin Pan Alley, and the British Invasion. An adept multi-instrumentalist, he writes adventurous songs that get under the skin while speaking to issues larger than romantic love and loss. His recordings reflect a spectrum of styles and traditions, drawing on influences as disparate as the Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, and the Velvet Underground. Through this virtual clinic of composition and performance rings a note of missionary passion. Blair's new Treadmarks, released by U.S. indie label Wampus Multimedia, distills his influences into a finely cut slice of acoustic pop. With touchstones ranging from the Beatles, Kinks, and Roxy Music to Al Green and James Brown, Treadmarks is mainstream music with a bold edge, accessible pop bent on originality. Building on the success of Fire (2000), Exotic Animals & Beaches of Pennsylvania (2001), Snapshots (2003), and his contribution ('Sunday Morning') to After Hours: a Tribute to the Music of Lou Reed (2003), Blair mines his strongest material, old and new, to create a heady mix of thought and soul that speaks unerringly to the present. Displaying an affection for composers from Stravinsky to Gershwin to Boyce and Hart, he recasts his influences, making them his own. While Blair's work can evoke Ray Davies, Brian Wilson, or Smokey Robinson, it ultimately is more diverse, and closer in sensibility to the explorations of David Bowie or Elvis Costello. An accomplished arranger and producer (e.g., Davy Jones of the Monkees), he employs a colorful palette on his landscapes, where genres happily co-exist. Blair creates what Goldmine magazine called 'pop music with a conscience,' accessible music rooted in a sense of justice. Honest, direct, and uncompromisingly inclusive, his work exalts the spirit without piety, and calls the audience to empathy. From the gospel-inflected testament of 'Music Up Inside of Me' to the cool, urban pop of 'I Like the Street,' it runs the range of experience, from chaos and despair to self-knowledge, generosity, and faith. Produced by Mark Doyon at Wampus Sound Studio, Treadmarks is part of the Wampus Multimedia Sessions series, featuring literate singer-songwriters captured in the studio over the course of a single day. The focus falls on the intimacy of performance, evoking the mood of a live show in the context of the studio.
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