John 5 officially returned this weekend with his latest album, Sinner, and the album got some added attention Saturday night in Martinsville in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Dead On Tools 250 race. It was featured on the #8 JR Motorsports car, driven by Sam Mayer. Mayer had a very respectable finish in fourth place after starting 11th. Mayer’s strong finish — despite being caught in an early-race incident — with the album on the car is a positive sign for the album’s success. The album is, in fact, a winning new offering from the veteran virtuoso guitarist. That is proven from the album’s outset to its end. Its arrangements are diverse throughout, putting his talents on full display. One of the most notable ways in which that diversity is exhibited is his take on the timeless Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell song, ‘Georgia on My Mind.’ The song will be examined shortly. ‘How High The Moon,’ the album’s midpoint, is in direct contrast to the aforementioned closer. It will be discussed a little later, as its comparison to that composition clearly shows the record’s musical diversity. ‘Land of the Misfit Toys,’ a later entry in the record, is just as unlike the other noted songs are as they are from one another and from the rest of the album’s entries. It also serves to show the album’s diversity, and so will also be discussed later. Each song noted here is important to the whole of the album. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes this record one of the best of this year’s new rock albums.
John 5’s latest album, Sinner, shows that sometimes, just sometimes, sinning is not a bad thing. That is because the 10-song record offers so much musical diversity, just as in each of his existing records. One of the most notable of the album’s entries is its closer, which is a cover of Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s timeless song, ‘Georgia on My Mind.’ Originally composed way back in 1930, it has since been made most famous by the late, great Ray Charles. John 5’s rendition here stays true to its source material in the sound while clearly giving the song its own unique identity. Where the Carmichael/Stuart rendition is known as a full orchestra/band arrangement, John 5’s take on the song is still unique in its own right. In the case of John 5’s rendition, his simple guitar approach is more akin to works from famed jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery than the fuller arrangement from Carmichael and Gorrell. Even with that approach, John 5’s approach is still so fully engaging and entertaining. The arrangement here is just John 5 and a subtle beat on the hi-hat and brushes mixing things on the snare. It is such a beautiful, enjoyable rendition that makes for a unique but great finale to this record. It is just one of the songs worth hearing in this record, too. John 5’s take of ‘How High The Moon’ is another work that is well worth hearing.
For those who might not know, ‘How High The Moon’ was originally composed in 1940 by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis. It was featured in the Broadway revue, “Two for the Show.” John 5’s rendition gives the classic a completely different identity. In this case, John 5 (a.k.a. John Lowery) opts for a more rockabilly approach to the song than the much slower, romantic approach taken in the original composition. What is so interesting to note is that even being more energetic here, this take on the classic still works. It works because in this case, it could portray someone who is just head over heels for another person. The energy here would seem to exude such strong, positive emotion. The original meanwhile is just more of a sensual (for lack of better wording) approach. To that end, Lowery’s rendition, with its swing style drumming and infectious guitar line really just makes the rendition here so enjoyable. It is completely unlike so much of the album’s other works. Thus showing the diversity noted earlier. Showing even more of that diversity is the album’s late entry, ‘Land of the Misfit Toys.’
One of the many originals featured in John 5’s new album, ‘Land of the Misfit Toys’ is just as unlike the other songs examined here as they are from one another and from the rest of the album’s songs. In the case of this song, Lowery opts for a more prog-rock/metal approach. Lowery’s guitar work here is immediately comparable to works from John Petrucci (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment). That is evidenced through the richness and heaviness. The harmonics that Lowery uses here add even more to that sense. The solid time keeping here and the bassline works with Lowery’s own performance and the song’s overall production to make this song so immersive, engaging and entertaining in its own right. It shows even more, the diversity noted here. Taking that into consideration, this song and the others examined here work with the rest of the record’s compositions to make the record in whole a solid presentation that is unquestionably one of the best at least of this year’s new rock albums.
John 5’s new album, Sinner, is another successful presentation from the veteran virtuoso guitarist. The 10 songs featured in this record – a mix of originals and covers – continue to remind audiences why he is such a respected member of the rock and general music communities. That is because they present so much diversity and talent from Lowery and his fellow musicians from start to end. When the examined songs are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes Sinner a blessing from John 5 and company.
Sinner is available now through Big Machine Records. More information on John 5’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at: