January 12, 2018

Johnny Dowd: Twinkle, Twinkle

photo: Kat Dalton

Over the last few years Johnny Dowd has gravitated towards a harsher, more electronic sound, besides his signature atonal guitar outbursts. His new album Twinkle, Twinkle, a collection of radically deconstructed traditionals from the Great American and English songbooks, should scare away the remaining alt-country fans who had trouble enough digesting his previous records That's Your Wife on the Back of My Horse and Execute American Folklore.

Dowd has put his vocals to a wide array of gizmos, duetting with a ghostly mirror of himself, and strays off-pitch with reckless abandon. He played all the instruments once again, kicking the shit our of beat boxes and strangling effect pedals until they screamed for mercy. Long time collaborators Anna Coogan and Michael Edmondson were invited to lay down additional vocals, and especially Coogan's schooled delivery makes Dowd ragged voice sound even more ferocious.

The album kicks off with the sole original Execute American Folklore, Again, a song that shouts "spoiler alert" for what is to come next. His take on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star will gives little kids nightmares and the unnamed male in Red River Valley is now a guy who is likely to kill the girl this time around. Dowd becomes a fire and brimstone preacher when he takes over John the Revelator, a part he reprises for album's closer, the spoken word lament Job 17:11-17. House of the Rising Sun is a song that has been murdered by many a poor boy trying to impress the fairer sex sitting around the camp fire. Dowd is the man who takes his instrument away without blinking an eye and throws it into the flames after he is done with it.

A good cover makes other versions sound bleak and boring and after listening to Twinkle, Twinkle any straightforward take will sound superfluous. What Jimi Hendrix did for Dylan's All Along The Watchtower is what Dowd did for these traditionals. He owns them and he won't give them back now that he has completed his mission to drag Americana into the 21st century.

Twinkle, Twinkle is released on Mother Jinx Records. CD's are available thru his website (and the merch table at his shows).

  1. Execute American Folklore, Again
  2. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  3. The Cuckoo
  4. Trouble in Mind
  5. Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
  6. St. James Infirmary Blues
  7. Red River Valley
  8. Rock of Ages
  9. John the Revelator
  10. Tom Dooley
  11. House of the Rising Sun
  12. Oh, My Darling, Clementine
  13. Job 17:11-17

He will be on tour in the UK and The Netherlands in January and February, sharing the bill with Dutch musician Melle de Boer. They named it the Going Down the Road Feeling Bad Tour. Johnny will be accompanied by The Sex Robots (Anna Coogan & Michael Edmondson).

Live dates:
  • 01/25 Eindhoven, Netherlands @ Altstadt
  • 01/26 Venlo, Netherlands @ Grenswerk
  • 01/27 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
  • 01/28 Nottingham, UK @ Running Horse
  • 01/29 London, UK @ St. Pancreas Church
  • 01/31 Sheffield, UK @ Greystones
  • 02/02 Farndale, UK @ The Band Room
  • 02/03 Tilburg, Netherlands @ Paradox
  • 02/07 Haarlem, Netherlands @ Patronaat
  • 02/08 The Hague, Netherlands @ Paard
  • 02/09 Rotterdam, Netherlands @ Worm
  • 02/10 Utrecht, Netherlands @ Tivoli Vredenburg Club 9
  • 02/11 Middelburg, Netherlands @ Kloveniersdoelen

» johnnydowd.com

HCTF review of Execute American Folklore.

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