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Johanna’s second album, If I Could Fly, is a beautiful collection of original songs about longing, loving, and learning. On this CD Johanna’s soaring voice is backed by singers and players who’ve made their marks in rock, folk, jazz, classical, world beat, electronica, and a capella music.
Stylistically, If I Could Fly is nearly impossible to classify. The opening track, Summer Lover, is an achingly beautiful pop ballad. The Only One has a powerful indie rock sound. Over You sounds like it might have come from Motown or the Brill Building songwriters of the sixties. The title track, If I Could Fly, draws on the piano-jazz stylings of Halie Loren, who also sings the second verse. Free to Decide (Breathe) is a rhythmic multi-voice a capella chant. Already Gone has an upbeat reggae flavor. Shift in Time makes two appearances on the CD, first as a funk tune and later as an ambient electronic remix. Escalation and The Other Side of Time combine Johanna’s plaintive vocals with rich cello and violin backing. Beginning Again and Smoke in the Snow draw on the rhythms and textures of alternative folk-rock. Johanna finishes the set with the gospel sounds of Amazing Grace, done a capella, and Strong, backed by a rocking ensemble and choir.
In spite of the stylistic diversity, the CD has a cohesive flow. The unifying factors are Johanna’s rich, creative vocals, her infectuous melodies, and her provocative, heart-felt lyrics. Listening to If I Could Fly from beginning to end is like taking a personal journey with a close friend.
This song explores an emotion that just about everyone has felt: the feeling that no matter what you do, you can’t go back to the way things were.
The Only One
This started out as another love song to my lost summer lover, but it became my love song to something much greater….
This song erupted from a deep longing—a longing that was satisfied in an unexpected way.
If I Could Fly
We thought we had all the songs for the CD, but when I sat down at the piano one day this song poured out of me. A few weeks later I asked Halie if she would record this with me. In this recording she sings a gorgeous lead on the second verse.
Free to Decide
This came to me after a week-long workshop with jazz singer Rhiannon and body percussionist Keith Terry. The a cappella group Absolute adopted and adapted it. When Betty Busch heard the song, she made it the centerpiece for the Solstice Concert of Jubilate! Women’s Choir. More than anything else I’ve written, this song has taken on a life of its own. We recorded it live, singing in a circle, with no overdubs or editing.
This song has a universal theme that lends itself to different styles of music. It has a reggae sound on this album, but I often perform it as a country rock song.
Shift in Time
I wrote this with my laptop in a friend’s basement late one night. The rhythmic drones of the washer and dryer inspired the funky beats and harmonies of the song.
This is a four minute song about ten seconds that could have been a lifetime.
The Other Side of Time
I wrote this after the death of a dear friend. A few months later I learned of the tragedy in a West Virginia coal mine that claimed several lives. One of the trapped miners left a note to his family: “See you on the other side.” I dedicate this song to the families of those miners and to all of us who have lost loved ones.
This is a true story about driving home on the freeway at midnight in the fog. The song pretty much wrote itself.
Smoke in the Snow
When I was 16 I wrote this song about abusive relationships. I’ve rewritten it twice since then and broadened its focus. This version deals with how hard it is to let go of self-destructive behaviors in an addictive culture.
Shift in Time (Dream Remix)
My brother Ben Beekman, AKA DJ Beeker, created a dreamlike electronic environment for this remix.
This song has been part of my family tradition for generations. When I was younger I didn’t really understand its power, but now I feel its meaning on a deep and personal level. When I sing this song I never know where it will take me. This recording is just one unplanned take in the studio.
This song is for all of those people who endure inequality and hardships every day in this troubled world.
All songs ©2007 Iconfluence. All rights reserved.
Words and Music : All songs written by Johanna except for “Amazing Grace” by John Newton
Arrangements: Johanna, Dave Trenkel and George Beekman with assistance from Brendan DeCoster (Summer Lover, Beginning Again), Suzannah Doyle (Strong, The Other Side of Time, Beginning Again), Absolute (Free to Decide, Strong), Betty Busch (Free to Decide), Neal and Barbara Gladstone (Over You), Ben Beekman AKA DJ Beeker (Shift in Time), Brody Welsh (The Other Side of Time), and all the Artists who’s playing and singing added something special to the songs on If I Could Fly.
Musicians: Johanna, Dave Trenkel, JD Monroe, Halie Loren, Brendan DeCoster, Suzannah Doyle, Audrey Perkins, Neal Gladstone, Barbara Gladstone, John Shipe, Betty Busch, Julie Williams, Elizabeth Wyatt, Shelley Willis, Micki Reaman, Luke Thomas, DJ Beeker, Paul Regan, Ann Grabe, Laura Brophy, Peter Argyres, Alan Studley, and George Beekman (for details see CD liner notes)
Producer: George Beekman
Production Assistant and Lyrical Consultant: Susan Grace Beekman
Sound Engineer, Technical Wizard, and Musical Advisor: Dave Trenkel (Newandimprov.com)
Photographers: Sally Yaich (Pink Caterpillar Productions) and George Beekman
Graphic Design: Pam Van London (i-Dev.us) and Ben Beekman (Beekmedia.com)
Mastering: Ryan Foster (Freq Mastering)
Replication: NW Media