This Perfect World
After a series of much-hailed releases on Bar/None, Freedy Johnston made his Elektra debut in 1994 with the wistfully blue This Perfect World. This Kansas-born singer/songwriter is a master at crafting tunes of thwarted romance and unquenchable yearning, but he can unleash exhilarating power-pop when the mood strikes him. "Bad Reputation" and "Can't Sink This Town" ride ascending melodies as he balances his hopes and heartaches. He smoothly slides into jazz with "Cold Again" and kicks up some dust with the folksy "Gone Like the Water." Johnston's vivid character sketches - "Evie's Tears," "Dolores" - are especially potent. In the title track, he poignantly deals with a loved one's suicide. Johnston's intimate vocal style and driving guitar lines underscore his stories. Butch Vig's production frames Johnston's scruffy panache like a tightly focused spotlight. Smart, sensitively rendered, and surprisingly rocking, This Perfect World approaches true pop perfection.