Single Review: Haley Johnsen / Feel The Water

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Back from her early January tour dates, Haley Johnsen returns to Portland to release her captivating new single “Feel The Water”. Last summer, Haley released her EP “Through the Blue” where she demonstrated her powerful vocals and sincere songwriting abilities. In her latest release she continues to provide fans with music that leaves you inspired and wanting to sing along.

“This song emerged for me while I was receiving a guitar lesson from my bandmate, Tim Karplus”, Haley explains. “The guitar melody line became the starting point to where the song would eventually write itself. The vocal melody came very naturally, almost as if it was certain it could be no other way.”

The first time I heard the chorus it felt like a gentle question for a friend and then evolved into a triumphant declaration by the end of the song. Speaking of evolution, Haley is emerging as a songwriter who can effortlessly express her message to the listener. Haley and her band have created an environment in this song that is inviting and draws you in.

Haley EditHaley goes on to explain, “As I was writing it, I couldn’t help but keep hearing the word “water”. I wasn’t sure why it kept insisting on itself, but the water came to represent something much greater than I’d imagined. The water represents all of our potential. Our depth. Our wildest dreams. This song became a reminder to myself and others to not be afraid to live a life of excellence. To make no excuse to settle for mediocrity or wade in shallowness, and to believe in oneself despite the ever looming shadow of complacency. This is the first song that my band and I collaborated on both outside and inside of the studio, and I feel so grateful to have found the right group of musicians to create with.”

With this single, Haley Johnsen has given us some of her best work yet. If “Feel The Water” is any indication, we have plenty to look forward to in her future releases!

Feel The Water: Available January 22nd!

Catch Haley on Local Roots Live, March 9th at Alberta St Pub.

Credits:

Haley Johnsen- vocal, acoustic guitar
Barrett Johnson- acoustic guitar
Tom Dawson- electric guitar
Tim Karplus- bass
Mark Powers- drums

 

Skyler Norwood (Miracle Lake Studios)- production/engineering
Jason Carter (Atomic Disc)- mixing
Ed Brooks (RFI Mastering)- mastering
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pseudoboss album review

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It’s been a long-standing belief of mine that you should listen to a record all the way through at least four times before you make up your mind about it. With the self-titled release from pseudoboss I did just that and found myself immediately captivated by the dynamic intensity of this power trio. I feel they have a Classic rock meets atmospheric alternative sound with a splash of gasoline. The band is known for their high energy shows so I was looking forward to seeing if they could capture that in the studio. With the help of producer Ian Watts they have recorded an album that has all the power of a live performance and a few wonderful surprises.

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Photo by Teri Briggs

Recently in an interview on Portland Radio Project, Noah Stroup (lead vocalist/guitarist) explained to me that they tracked the record in six days and did the majority of it live. From a production standpoint this was absolutely the best call they could have made. You can hear our interview on Portland Radio Project here:  http://prp.fm/drop-session-pseudoboss/

One aspect of this album that I really enjoyed was the attention to detail and nuance in the guitar layers. Justin Gibson (lead guitar/backing vocals) plays a soaring anthemic solo on “Bombs Away” and has moments of brilliance all throughout the record. I loved the softly picked harmonics during the intro of the song “Fallen Solider Part I” and then the unexpected appearance of a piano in “Fallen Solider Part II”. When listening to the album with headphones on there is a sense of intimacy with the record that can get lost in a live setting. One of the songs you find this vibe on is “I’ve Been There”. In this song, Charley McGowan (Drums) plays an alluring and almost haunting piece during the verses on his toms. This was followed by hard-hitting cymbals and relentless intensity on the choruses, bridge and outro.

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By the third or fourth time I was listening through I found myself looking forward to certain parts of the record where the guys have done a wonderful job of layering vocals. They do so in a way that compliments these well crafted songs. At times the vocals are no nonsense and in your face like on the track “Make Her Scream”. They used a texture on Noah’s voice that reminds me of the classic Delta Blues sounds from the 50’s and 60’s. Then they showcase a larger sonic quality on “Devil May Care” with a sweeping melody and harmonies during the bridge and outro. It’s clear when you hear these songs that the band put a lot of work into their individual parts and how they come together. Noah’s melodies and lyrics propel you through the songs where you can hear the honesty in his voice. The members of pseudoboss have poured their hearts into this project and it shows.

The only complaint I have about the album is that I wish there were more songs for me to enjoy. However the nine songs on the record individually stand on their own but together make very captivating and exciting record to listen to. This one will be in my personal playlist for months to come.

The band is releasing the album this Saturday at the Wonder Ballroom. Do yourself a favor, go to the show and get this record!

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