1. Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds
2. Rich And Poor
3. I Need Help
4. I'll Be Me
5. Pacific Hymn
7. Mass Shooting
8. Sell Me Some Destruction
9. Modern Pornography
10. Forced Therapy
In 2014, after two top 40 albums, world tours and support slots with the like of Pixies and The Rolling Stones, Johnny disbanded the critically acclaimed Tribes. Five years later and a very different Johnny Lloyd has emerged. Gone are the Indie anthems and in their place is 10 simple, Folk songs, which are understated but each with a simple message through the clear and clever lyrics. Six of the songs are under 3 minutes long, so this is a short album. Life has changed a lot for Johnny over the last five years and this album touches on some of these changes, it takes a cynical swipe in some areas whilst giving warm insights in others. It covers subjects that affect us all in our modern lives, such as how to maintain relationships, the effects of drugs, struggling to live up to societies expectation and gun control.
The title track was the first single from the album, and opens the album. Johnny has enlisted long term friend and label mate, Frank Turner to provide backing vocals. If you wanted to prove your credentials as a Folk troubadour then having Frank on your track is not a bad way to start. This track is a beautiful lead in to the album with simple guitar strumming and understated keys in the background. 'Rich And Poor' follows on in the same vein, with very simple arpeggio. A song about trying to maintain relationships within the hectic modern culture that we live in. You can sense the vulnerability, with the key change in the track. Johnny has enlisted the help of another friend on this number too, with The Maccabees’ Hugo White on backing vocals. 'I Need Help', which is the first number with full instrumentation complete with Cello. The lyrics again are crisp and simple. Johnny really lays his demons out with lines such as“I need help, trying to be myself. A hole in my chest. I’m not looking my best. Watch me choke, take a trip to Tokyo…”. This is a self assured track. The humour shines through in 'I'll Be Me' which returns to the parred down feel of the album with a simple 3 chord melody, with subtle strings in the background. The song is about becoming a father and almost feels like a lullaby. Lyrics such as “I’ll never be the first an to walk upon the moon, I’ll never be a rock star who died way too soon, but I’ll be me better than you today…” are not only delivered with humour but candour too. One of my favourite tracks is 'Pacific Hymn' which has a more powerful vocal delivery, with soothing 'ooo's in the back ground. It seems to wrap it's arms around you and give you a reassuring hug.
Too soon we are halfway through and the album takes on a more Americana feel about it. 'Fix' starts with a plaintiff mouth organ and has more than a hint of American Folk. The lyrics seem very American, and are about the effects of parents not giving their children the attention they need. It is a typical story of rebellion against parental indifference, 'She said her Daddy's rich, but he was never home, you can't get no fix talking on the telephone'. It is a very accomplished song dripping in melancholy 'Oh Brother can you feel the pain, of all those misunderstood?' Johnny's vocal delivery, conveys the pain so well combined with his talent for great story telling. There are no prizes for guessing what 'Mass Shooting' is about. It does show the hypocrisy in the hand wringing that follows a shooting by blaming everything but the guns. A very clever line is 'Ain't it strange you can buy your ammunition at the same place you buy your Ritalin'. The great track ends with the bleeding obvious, which is, 'Cos somethings got to change in the home of the brave, just blame it on our freedom'. As if to lighten things up a bit 'Sell Me Some Destruction' follows, which has a Simon and Garfunkel vibe to it. More glorious mouth organ appears on 'Modern Pornography' which is not about pornography at all from what I could gather, but is about addiction. Again you feel as if personal experience comes to bear here with lines like 'Took falling in love to kick all the drugs, but I could really use a beer'. The album ends on a high note with the up tempo 'Forced Therapy' which is probably the most layered track with full instrumentation. This seems a very mature and positive song about acceptance of growing older and focussing on the good times in your past.
'Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds' is a very personal album, indeed the sleeve shows Johnny Lloyd with his famous girlfriend, Billie Piper, who was heavily pregnant with their daughter at the time. Johnny maintains that this was Billie's idea and it does seem apt given the autobiographical nature of the album. This is a very different Johnny Lloyd to that that we previously knew as the frontman for the
indie band, Tribes. He has long term friends on some of the tracks and has produced ten simple but very good tracks dealing with many hard issues. On this album the old adage of less is more could not be more true, and Johnny could probably perform the album in it's entirety, alone on a stage with and acoustic guitar and mouth organ. Like many of the best troubadours the magic is in the simplicity, the vocal delivery and the lyrics.
Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds is released on May 3rd via Xtra Mile Recordings.
Website - johnnylloyd.lnk.to/nextepisode
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/johnnylloydmusic/
Review - Tony Creek