Andy Johnson has released Roofdog, the electric-fried follow-up to 2021’s deeply personal Help Yourself. Though good times and groove abound, Johnson also leaves room on the dance card for the introspection that made his previous effort so compelling.
Roofdog opens with the unapologetically southern rocker “The Real Thing”, an Allman-flavored jammer with a “Gimme Back My Bullets” bite that sinks thoroughly into honky tonkin’ album highlight “Stranger Danger”, a true story according to Johnson “about a small town preacher trying to bully a new business out of town” that’s elevated by tongue-in-cheek parody and Johh Heinrich’s (Ronnie Milsap) pedal steel.
Fuzzy, lick-fueled “Georgia Peaches” blends Billy Joe Shaver’s cadence with Dickey Betts bravado while Royal Johnson’s “Jar It Up” gets a slide and organ-heavy “wild & blue” remake that ambles along like a summer Ocmulgee River float. The band of bassist Trey Dunnahoo, keyboardist Ethan Hamlin, and Macon stalwart drummer James Lengel are in top form in this inaugural studio configuration, with Johnson displaying considerable chops on slide guitar throughout.
Stepping onto the wilderness trail, Johnson chronicles nature’s rough beauty with “In The Woods”, declaring, “If I wanna go to hell today, well, I’ll just go to town,” but the album’s true jewel is “More Than Me”, an earthy acoustic ode to mortality and legacy that echoes the sentiment of Help Yourself and showcases Johnson as an underrecognized songwriter among Central Georgia artists.
A remarkably clean live version of Johnson’s “32-20 Blues” recorded in Waycross, Georgia at the ’22 Swamptown Getdown Music & Arts Festival closes out Roofdog on a funky, bluesy high note that leaves the album hanging a bit– not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps leaving us wanting more was all in the design.
Recorded in parts at Macon’s subWATT Studio with Matt Laws and Justin Mercer at Caution Light Media in Waycross, Roofdog carries all the hallmarks of classic Southern Rock without sounding dated or tired, but it positively shines when it steps off the beaten path to offer up wit and honesty.