Album Review: The Mad Ship – Ash Johnson

By Barry Humphries

Some gloriously sunny days over the last few weeks have already put me right into festival mood, so what a pleasure to have been able to sit down in the sun and listen to Ash Johnson’s debut album “The Mad Ship”, which is out on Friday 22nd June on Stunted Records. Right from the intro guitar on opening track “There’s No Goodbye” (second single from late April), it’s all music that I’d like to hear coming towards me in a big festival crowd.

Ash has been working on the songs for some time, and it’s obvious he’s taken the opportunity to draw and re-draw their boundaries to give each of them their own life. The sleeve notes put the songs into their contextual origins, and this novel idea gives a clear pointer for the inspiration of each of them.

Coincidentally, here at Urban Antenna, we were recently talking about the lost art of the construction of an album, which we concluded is down to the one-song-at-a-time-approach which is pushed on us by all those digital music platforms out there. Then lo and behold, “The Mad Ship” sails in and successfully bucks that trend with a clearly thought-out running order that makes it a real body of work that flows from beginning to end. I’d be only too happy to hear all these songs played live in exactly the same order they’re presented on the record.

Originally  hailing from Lincolnshire, Ash names a wide range of influences running through a diversity of styles, from  early childhood days when Mum played Johnny Mathis, Dad shared his love of Elvis and The Beatles, then being inspired to take up playing the guitar from hearing early Nirvana. He adds Elvis Costello and Tom Petty to the mix of personal favourites. “I’m drawn to melody….” is what he says, and you can hear it on every track he has to offer.

For those of you who now insist on doing the one-song-at-a-time-routine, then start with the singles “The Mad Ship” (which also features Chloe Rodgers on vocals), and “There’s No Goodbye”. Really though, the best advice I can give you is that you should treat yourself by sitting down and listening to the whole album from start to finish. The Mad Ship is a great debut album that Ash and all those associated with it can be really proud of.

The Mad Ship:

There’s No Goodbye:

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