Album of the Day

This Perfect World

Kansas-born Freedy Johnston moved to New York in the mid-1980s and by the decade's end had earned a place on the Bar/None roster; after two fine collections on that label, he graduated to Elektra for 1995's THIS PERFECT WORLD. Nirvana producer and Garbage-man Butch Vig might seem an odd choice to helm a singer-songwriter's major-label debut, but the combination works, bringing an immediacy to these dozen introspective originals. The worlds of which Johnston sings here are hardly perfect – the characters peopling tracks like minor hit “Bad Reputation,” “Evie's Tears” and “Two Lovers Stop” contend with things like regret, sexual abuse and suicide – but the craftsmanship with which they're detailed is immaculate, leading Rolling Stone to name the performer “songwriter of the year.” As dark as its themes are, the music brims with strong melodies, and few who visit THIS PERFECT WORLD leave unimpressed.

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