Audiences Will Agree Sammy Johnson’s New LP Is “Cool” And “Easy” On The Ears

Courtesy: Mensch House Records

It goes without saying that reggae and R&B are two very closely related musical genres.  Sure, one originated in Jamaica and the other in the United States, but the relaxed stylistic approach to the two genres and the sound of each blends well with the other.  What’s more, the lyrical themes that feature in so many songs from each genre are equally accessible.  So it only makes sense that the two genres occasionally find themselves intersecting and forming some very popular works.  Independent artist Sammy Johnson has joined the two genres effectively in his brand new album Cool & Easy, to the end that this 10-song record assures its appeal among audiences of both genres.  That is noted in part because of the album’s musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The equally accessible lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical content adds even more to its appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The album’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  All things considered, they make the album in whole, an interesting presentation that reggae and R&B fans alike will find worth hearing at least once.

Sammy Johnson’s latest full-length studio recording Cool & Easy is a presentation that definitely lives up to its name.  It is a record that will find wide appeal among audiences.   That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question blend the best elements of R&B and reggae for a unique sound that stands out against so much of today’s reggae and R&B works.  Given, this outing is hardly the first time that Johnson has taken this approach of melding the two genres, but he still manages to keep the arrangements fresh in this case.  He doesn’t stick to just one style of R&B to compliment his more constant reggae arrangements.  For instance, ‘She’s A Keeper,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is something of a slow jam style work.  It, against the noted familiar reggae work makes for a great song for any date night or even wedding.  Meanwhile, a song, such as ‘For Your Love’ throws back to the R&B and soul jams of the late 80s, what with its keyboards.  It is a distinctly different work than the more modern slow jam styling of ‘She’s A Keeper.’  On yet another note, the album’s title track, which comes late in the album’s presentation, lives up to its title with its light, laid back approach.  The R&B influence is here, but in this case, Johnson’s reggae influence takes more of the limelight.  The very title and companion musical arrangement makes the song feel like a work that would help set the mood for a relaxed evening at the beach.  Yet again here audiences see why the album’s musical arrangements are so important to its presentation.  Each one is accessible for any listener while still using subtle changes to make each composition its own unique work.  Between the songs noted here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the album’s musical presentation builds a solid foundation for the record.  It ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in its own right.  The lyrical content that accompanies the musical content featured here adds to that engagement and entertainment.

The lyrical content that is featured throughout Johnson’s new LP follows one central theme, that of romance and relationships.  Right from the record’s outset, audiences get a song in ‘Come A Little Closer’ whose title is self-explanatory.  This song is sung from a man’s standpoint as he is trying to coax a woman to…well…come closer.  Early on he even sings to that woman, “I just wonder/Can I get your number?/Can we go out for a night on the town/’Cause I just want to get to know you baby.”  This is relatively obvious.  This is that opening moment of a budding relationship.  On another level, ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’ will relate in its own way to listeners, lyrically speaking.  This song finds the song’s subject having doubts about the state of his relationship with his romantic interest.  He says early on in the song, “You say you love me/But sometimes I get to thinking/Your heart’s getting restless/From time to time/I hear talking different…Maybe it’s just my mind playing  tricks on me/Maybe I’m just making it up, now/And if it’s true, then I don’t wanna know.”  The rest of the song follows in similar fashion in regards to its lyrics.  Keeping that in mind, it is pretty obvious here, too, what the subject is saying.  Audiences have gone here, from the early stage of any relationship to that point that everyone reaches, wondering if that connection is still there.  This will certainly connect with its own share of listeners because it is just a reality of any relationship.  It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.  ‘The Edge,’ the record’s penultimate song, seems to take things even farther, literally to the edge.  Some of the lyrical content here is difficult to decipher, but the mention of looking in the mirror and seeing one’s self alongside the note of a person’s face showing one thing, but another emotion being felt inside seems to hint perhaps at that relationship sitting precariously at a critical point.  If that is in fact the case, then what audiences get in this song, is a completion of what is otherwise a story of a relationship’s infancy, growth and potential death.  Add in the other songs in regards to their lyrical themes (also which focus on relationships in various situations) and again what audiences get overall is a series of songs whose lyrical content centers on a very accessible topic in a variety of ways.  Together with the record’s musical content, the whole makes the album a presentation that will appeal even more to audiences.  The overall content is just a portion of what makes the album successful.  The production of the collective content puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

The production of Sammy Johnson’s new album is important to note because, again, it does blend the noted reggae and R&B influences in each song.  The genres are so similar that it would have been easy for the arrangements to get muddied and bogged down in themselves without proper production.  Had that happened, what would have happened is that the two would have been impossible to differentiate from one another.  Luckily, painstaking efforts were clearly taken to ensure that the two related genres were balanced to the utmost throughout.  What’s more, the subtleties in the arrangement, letting listeners know that they were not just getting the same song from one to the next, are just as well balanced within the songs.  The extra elements are so subtle that listeners have to commit themselves to really listening to each song, but that is actually a good thing.  That added attention means that listeners will in turn have more appreciation for each composition and the album in whole.  They will also catch all of the minutiae noted here as to the musical and lyrical content.  In turn, listeners will agree that the album in whole is indeed a welcome presentation that fans of both genres will appreciate.

Sammy Johnson’s new album Cool & Easy is a presentation that lives up to its title and that audiences will find worth hearing at least once.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which do so well blending Johnson’s familiar R&B leanings with some subtle reggae influences here.  The whole is a presentation that is fully accessible for audiences in its own right.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content builds in the foundation formed through the album’s musical content.  That content is just as accessible to audiences because it follows a real, overarching theme – that of romance and relationships.  The production that went into the album’s presentation blends the two musical influences expertly together with the arrangements’ subtleties to make the record in whole a solid whole.  Each item noted here is clearly important in its own right to this album.  All things considered, the album proves itself that R&B and reggae fans alike will find well worth hearing at least once if not more.  Cool & Easy is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Sammy Johnson’s latest news at:



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Monophonics EP Takes Top Honors In 2018 Best New EPs List

Courtesy: Transistor Sound

The countdown to the end of the year is officially on, and with that countdown on, many critics — if not most — are either submitting their year-ender lists or have already done just that.  Now this critic is joining those ranks with the first of many year-enders to come in the form of the year’s Top 10 New EPs.

Those who have followed this critic’s daily ramblings year in and year out know that the year-enders have always started with the smallest records, the EPs, and this year is no different.  This year has seen a variety of interesting EPs released from across the musical universe.

Veteran rock band Sister Hazel is joined on this critic’s list this year with not one, but two new EPs — Wind and Water.  Each one stands out in its own right.  Also worth noting this year are new releases from the likes of up-and-coming hard rock/prog-metal outfit Hyvmine, World Music act Te’Amir, with two of its own new EPs and pop country artist Max Ater among many others.

As with every year past, this critic’s list features not 10, but 15 titles.  The top 10 titles are the primary titles, while the next five are honorable mention titles.  With everything noted, here with out any further ado, is Phil’s Picks Top 10 New EPs of 2018.


  1. Monophonics — Mirrors
  2. Hyvmine — Fight or Flight
  3. Sister Hazel — Water
  4. Sister Hazel — Wind
  5. Memphis Ukulele Band — Holidays Ain’t The Same
  6. Grand Canyon — Grand Canyon
  7. Max Ater — Small Town
  8. Te’Amir — Abyssinia
  9. Te’Armi — Abyssinia Rise
  10. Sammy Johnson — Midnight Lovers
  11. Sevi Ettinger — Salty Water
  12. Facing Fire — Facing Fire
  13. Ali McManus — Unbreakable
  14. Doc Rotten — Sick & Suffering
  15. Anialator — Rise To Supremacy

Up next from Phil’s Picks is this year’s Top 10 New Rap and Hip-Hop Albums.  That list features some well-known and not-so-well-known names and titles.  Stay tuned for that, too.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at