If relaxed midwestern folk is your bag, then you’re sure to dig John Statz’s upcoming album Old Fashioned, due out January 24 via Yer Bird Records. Statz, a songwriter and world-traveler who has written, recorded and performed in places from Budapest to Anchorage, is now back in the Heartland. Recorded in Iowa City with producer Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Jeffrey Foucault, and Pieta Brown), Old Fashioned is about hard-working people, love and the past. It also features a list of great musicians including Bo Ramsey on electric guitar, Pieta Brown singing harmonies, and multi-instrumentalist Jeremiah Nelson, who also designed the album’s cover art.
Old Fashioned showcases John Statz remarkable ability to tell a story through song. He has an uncanny knack for conveying feeling and taking the listener inside of each song like “Baltimore”, “Honest”, and “To My Dismay”. Then, when Statz wants to he takes you on trips through “Green Meadows” and to a “Rust Belt City” without leaving the comfort of your armchair. And, since I mentioned “Rust Belt City” , this song is a great example of a modern folk song and very reminiscent of Joe Pug. Hell, the man gives an accurate history lesson on the Spanish-American War in the banjo heavy, “1898”. Not only does Statz have a great lyrical understanding, but a musical one as well, which can be heard in his unhurried cover of Frightened Rabbit’s “Old Old Fashioned.” But, the standout track has to be “Distance” with its gorgeous blending and layering of the guitars combined with his fluent vocals.
So, let me end with this, in a genre that is saturated with similar sounds and styles, Old Fashioned demonstrates that John Statz can stand beside the best and above the rest with his songwriting alone. I should also say that in these early months of 2012 with great releases from some fine folk and Americana artists, John Statz has created an album that equals.