Daniel Johnston, 'Is and Always Was' (Eternal Yip Eye)

7
Is and Always Was
Critical Mass
Label: Eternal Yip Eye

by Jon Young

Admired by Kurt Cobain and Tom Waits, troubled lo-fi troubadour Daniel Johnston has made cult-inspiring records since the early 1980s. For Is and Always Was, well-meaning producer Jason Falkner (Jellyfish, Brendan Benson) attempts to expand Johnston's appeal, wrapping his timeless, touching lyrics and Elmer Fudd-like voice in buzzing electric guitars and shiny keyboards. Often brilliant, occasionally creepy songs such as the bitter toe-tapper "Without You" and the optimistic six-minute epic "Light of Day" aren't appreciably improved by the trappings, but still cut deeply.

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