The replay of John Moreland’s network television debut is…glorious and affirming and a sucker punch. He is announced by Stephen Colbert, lights disolve, and the camera slowly focuses on the person midway across the unadorned stage, revealing him beneath muted blue lights. He is a big man. Seated, alone, cradling his acoustic guitar. He looks like nobody who is famous. Then he begins to sing, to caress the song “Break My Heart Sweetly,” and all that remains is to whisper, “Oh, my god.” In Colbert’s studio everybody stood, like they were in church.
WILL JOHNSON (CENTRO-MATIC)
Over the course of his quarter-century-plus career, Will Johnson has dealt with every challenge a musician can face. The silver lining, however, is that the Austin-based songwriter excels at taking bumps in the road and turning them into gold. A week before Johnson was to begin tracking his fifth solo album, Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm, he hit one such bump: His usual studio haunt, the Echo Lab—where he’s recorded solo work, albums by his beloved former band Centro-matic and side projects such as South San Gabriel—suddenly became unavailable due to a fire.