Johnnyswim/Heaven Is Everywhere/self-released
Three out of Five Stars
The euphemistically dubbed Heaven Is Everywhere represents Johnnyswim’s desire to seek out the ultimate truth of existence, from both a spiritual and grounded point of view. Granted, that’s some mighty ambition, but like the rest of us, the pandemic provided an opportunity for repose and reflection, even when optimism was seemingly abandoned and pessimism and a persistent doom seemed to override all else.
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Rather than give in to that despair, the husband-wife combo—Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano—took the opportunity to explore some bigger truths, those that aren’t governed by politics, religion, or those that insist their way is the right way and no other avenues matter. I want magic/You know it’s good when the ending’s tragic/Weathered and true/And good to the vows we said in our youth, they insist on “Devastating,” the anthemic opening track of their self-titled new album. It’s an overarched effort that’s aching and expressive in equal measure, all indicative of everything that’s included. Optimism is prevalent throughout, and if that naivety actually has some purpose, then it certainly serves this pair well.
We don’t need all the answers,” they insist via the title track. Don’t need ’em, don’t need ’em to know, Heaven is everywhere.
The couple, who met in 2005 and wed four years later, has been prodigious enough ever since. Over the course of their combined career, they’ve released three full-length albums, a Christmas EP, and a live recording, garnering over 500 million streams in the process, worldwide. They recently launched the second season of their television series, The JOHNNYSWIM Show, and even published a book, brazenly titled Home Sweet Home: Finding Love, Making Music, and. Building a Life One City at a Time.
Nevertheless, the new album ranks among their most ambitious offerings yet, especially given its broader themes and varied musical template. The songs run a gamut in style and sensibility, from the reggae-like rhythms and hip-hop infusion of “Bullet” to the edgy inducement of the title track and the measured sprawl of “Slow” and “No Time for Sleeping.” So too, there’s more than a hint of modern pop that allows for added inducement.
To be clear, Johnnyswim doesn’t provide the answers to all our modern problems or, for that matter, any remedy for the world. No one record will ever do that. Still, this does mark a new direction for this dogmatic duo, a purely pop pursuit that’s at least worthy of recognition.
Photo by Chole Enos / Sacks & Co.