Ralph Boyd Johnson, Dyin’ to Go

Calgary singer-songwriter Ralph Boyd Johnson, known for years for his live performances, has finally released a CD. Overall, Dyin’ to Go is an entertaining country music album, with several moments of musical brilliance held back only by the occasional flaw.

“Hit the Deck” is a fast-paced tune in the vein of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” that makes excellent use of Johnson’s vocal and guitar skills. Unfortunately, like far too many lyrics on this CD, it seems more like style than substance. Johnson is a talented musician, but “Hit the Deck”–while musically exhilarating–seems like little more than a collection of rhyming cliches, rather than telling verse put to music. On the other hand, this is probably the most radio-friendly song on this CD, which may be what warranted its inclusion.

However the best part of this CD is not the music, but the last two tracks of spoken-word poetry. Johnson’s lyrical style is mesmerizing, as is his storytelling ability.

This is an extremely competent first album, which shows that Johnson has the skills to be both an artistic and a commercial success.

Dyin’ to Go will be available at the official CD release party, this Friday, Nov. 29 at the Crescent Heights Community Centre.

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