It’s time for me to start sharing some hidden musical gems! Or not so hidden anymore…since they just played this morning for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Anyways, I still want to highlight them. Who am I talking about here? Johnnyswim. And I just have to say…wow! So, where did they come from? Who are they? What is there music like and what songs would I suggest diving into head first? Let’s get to it.
Johnnyswim is an amazing soulful, grassroots, pop influenced duo made up of Abner and Amanda Ramirez. “Brother and sister duo? That’s pretty cool!” If that’s what you thought…no. Wrong. Even better. They’re a married couple. Why does that make it better? Well…I guess it’s just opinion. But usually (usually…) when two people are married there is a strong connection between them. And that connection can be felt by those around them. Let me tell you…that shines so brightly throughout their music. Okay hold on…back to some background information. I’m getting ahead of myself (focus Josh focus…). They both come from a musical background, Abner studying music at Douglas Anderson School of Arts, and Amanda was raised with two musicians as parents; Donna Summer and Bruce Sudano. Guess what Abner has a background in playing? Violin. Yeah! Classically-trained! (Mind…blown) They met in Nashville back in 2005, but Amanda is originally from LA and Abner is from Florida.
So how did they meet in Nashville? Let’s be honest, what are the chances of these two meeting in the music capital of the USA? Turns out they have mutual friends, and…they met at a coffee shop. Beginning of a love story? Sure sounds like it to me. So they met in the spring, and Amanda went back to New York. The end. They never saw each other again. Johnnyswim is a hoax. TOTALLY KIDDING. So she came back in August the same year, and Abner invited her to one of his shows. How? Over…wait for it…Myspace. Yep, Abner dropped the DMs. Then they started hanging out, and Amanda suggested what became a turning point to everything. She suggested they start writing together. The rest…is history. The two married in 2009, and now they are writing, touring and parenting, their adorable little boy named Joaquin. In other words, they are practically relationship goals. “Wow! Yeah, you’re totally right Josh!” I knew you would agree!
Okay, so now that we have established a little background about the couple, let’s get to the focal point of my blog…their music. What sets them apart, making them deserving of your attention and listening ear? As I discussed in my first blog post, I like looking for musicians that really put their heart and soul into their music. Music that makes you feel. That’s exactly what Johnnyswim does. They put their heart and soul into every song they produce. Abner once said, “We make sure every song has every ounce of our heart”. When you listen to their music, that is exactly what you will feel. Their lyrics are so emotionally driven, that you can’t help but feel what they were feeling when they were writing. Whether it’s the upbeat, positively driven “Home”; or the soulful, revenge seeking “Pay Dearly”. Why is there music so touching? So moving? It is the connection they have with their music. As Abner’s quote suggest, they aren’t trying to just pump songs out. They want every song to mean something to them. And there in lies the key. When the song means something to the artist, it will be felt by the listener. Which is exactly what Johnnyswim accomplishes.
Not only are their recorded albums amazing, their live performances are…awe-inspiring! This bring me to one of my pet peeves when it comes to artists/musicians. They can sound good in a recording studio, but not at a live concert? There is nothing more disappointing. Why? Because that means they aren’t real. It means without the studio; without the cutting, vocal polishing and tuners, they wouldn’t make it. Artists should be able to preform without all the bells and whistles a studio provides. Studio recordings should compliment the artist, not make the artist. That is what you get with Johnnyswim. There is nothing fake about their music. When you hear them live, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent. I got to experience that when they came to play in Pittsburgh. They did a tremendous job engaging the audience. Incorporating call and answers, personal stories, and even dropping into the audience to perform all added to the amazing experience. Sick of all my writing yet? “Yeah…a little.” That’s fine! Me too! So see for yourself…
Do you see what I’m talking about here? This couple has it all. The pipes, the musical talent, and the personality that shines through. Please, do yourself a favor and listen to this wonderful duo. What songs would I recommend listening to? Well…honestly…all of them. “Well obviously you would!” Yeah, your right. Okay, I’ll narrow down a few of my favorites.
Pay Dearly (Diamonds Album)
This is a great highlight of Abner’s awesome vocals. He does a great job in portraying the feelings you experience when you are wronged. Being lied to, broken up with, any sort of hurt really. The best part about this song, is how simple the arrangement is, allowing you to really indulge in the lyrics. Please, treat yourself to this song.
In My Arms (Georgica Pond Album)
This song, pretty much takes the cake for love songs. If I had to choose a song for my dance with my future wife, it would be this song. The harmonies, the answer and calls, makes this such a beautiful and endearing song. Once again, just really showing the true connection Abner and Amanda have, making their music true gems.
This song…really highlights how they can make a song sound professional while having the intimate and raw feeling to it. With the amazing chorus and quire singing “Your my hallelujah” giving you the chills, they bring it back down giving you a smile on your face by incorporating a raw recording of their interaction with Joaquin.
I’ll leave you with just three.
I could go on and on about this wonderful group of Johnnyswim, but I’m already getting wordy. “But wait…where did they get their name?” Excellent question! Wanna hear? No where. It’s completely random. And that comes straight from Abner himself. To wrap this all up…if you are looking for a soulful musical group that can make you laugh, sing along, cry and every other emotion in between, Johnnyswim should be on the top of your list. I hope I have convinced you to at least give them a chance, because they deserve it. And trust me…your ears will thank you.
Check out their website…