JOHNNYSWIM - Georgica Pond

by Shona Hickey

Husband and wife duo JOHNNYSWIM have a love-story that will melt your heart. The two met in Nashville at church but after this initial meeting they didn’t see each other for four years. As fate would have it, they met again and began making music together in 2005. Four years later they were married, and they just celebrated the birth of their son in 2015.

Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez have enjoyed great success so far. Their debut album has over 30 million streams, and Georgica Pond hit number 34 in the Billboard charts. The duo bring a vibrant new sound to the chart scene, mixing soul, folk, and pop elements, alongside country and gospel influences. I think they have a great sound and complement each other brilliantly, but I also recognise that their album Georgica Pond may not blow your socks entirely off. The album’s songs are largely all about love, marriage, family and being on the road. Having said that, it does make for some genuinely enjoyable listening.

If I was to play the ‘spot-the-radio-hits’ game, I would definitely single out Summertime Romance and Let It Matter. Both are catchy, fun and show the duo working in perfect harmony together. Let it Matter is one of my particular favourites. This track is a refreshing take on a heart-break song, telling listeners, “If it matters let it matter / If your heart’s breaking let it ache / Catch those pieces as they scatter / Know your hurt is not in vain.” As much as I enjoy empowering break-up songs, I like the message that it’s okay to feel a bit shitty when something bad happens.

The soul/gospel influence is perhaps most obvious in Touching Heaven. Initially there is just a nice overlay of harmonies but nothing particularly exciting. But then choral backing vocals are introduced, and Amanda shows of the power of her vocals. The gospel element does seem to come out of nowhere, but I think it still works. The song ends with an adorable little snippet of babbling from their kid, which is probably a bit unnecessary, but cute all the same.

Most of the tracks are heart-warming and romantic, but they’re not shallow. The title track has definite depth to its song-writing. The song features Amanda’s vocals to a very minimalist, folky track. The lyrics explore the ideas of being remembered when you’re gone, and that love can always overcome time. The experience of parenthood and family definitely influence the song-writing in this album. The track Drunks repeats the refrain, “What are we giving to our sons and daughters? / What are we giving when we loving?” Again the lyrics are considering what we want to leave behind to the next generation.

A harsh critic would probably say the tracks all a bit too ‘nice’ with nothing too exciting going on. However, the harsh critic may not appreciate that sometimes ‘nice’ is exactly what you need in album. The songs express ideas about love, family and how we want to be remembered. If you need an album to remind you that love is still alive and well, give this a listen.