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CD Review
John Statz - An Evening With John Statz

John Statz

An Evening With John Statz
Record Label: Self Released
Review by Cactus Joe
November 2008

“An Evening with John Statz” is the third self-produced release by Madison folk musician John Statz. It was recorded live at Uncommon Ground coffee shop in Chicago, IL, on April 22, 2008.

“I had put out two studio albums and just wanted to get a live cut of some of those songs and a few new ones,” Statz said, “I was playing Uncommon Ground on the spring tour and they always give you a live recording of what you play. So I figured it would be an easy way to get a good quality live recording.”
The live recording was mastered by Nate Edwards who recorded Statz’s first album, “Dusk Came Slow.”

“An Evening with John Statz” was recorded on the first stop of Statz’s spring 2008 tour, which speaks to the artist’s innate talent and preparation for live performances. The musicianship and sound quality are nearly flawless, with dynamic and rich equalization of the guitar and vocals, the only instruments on the recording.

“It isn’t easy to describe [Uncommon Ground] to people,” Statz said, “It is a really intimate, small room that you play in. It is just the size of a medium-sized living room. There is no stage or anything. You just kind of stand in the middle and people really have to come into the room to hear the music. It’s my favorite place to play in Chicago because it is just so intimate. It’s a live album, but you won’t hear a roaring audience or anything, because there are maybe 20 people in the room. That gives it kind of a house concert feel.”

The closeness and intimacy comes through on the recording, allowing the listener to feel the spatial relationship to the artist in both the music and the close applause of the small audience.

“I think some people, on first listen, may try to compare this with a lot of live albums with tons of clapping,” Statz said, “This gives a different perspective.”
If there is anything to be critical of here, it is only that the clarity of the recording hides nothing (as when Statz gulps water near the microphone on the recording). Occasionally Statz’s voice noticeably, albeit mildly, pushes the upper limits of his range. But when he keeps to comfortable vocal territory, the intonation is dead on.

The songs are heavily folk music influenced with a lyrical story-telling maturity. The title track from Statz’s second studio album, “Our Love Was Made for Canada,” appears on the new live album in solo acoustic format. Two songs, “Nobody Can Say We Aren’t Loyal Now” and “Best Girl of ‘16” are previously unreleased. They are themed on World War I, a period of history in which Statz has a deep intellectual interest. Also new to this album is the lighter “Ballad for V and B in 5,” a song Statz was hired to write for a wedding. The first track on the album, “A Letter from Southeast Asia,” focuses on the more recent Vietnam War and brings to mind the anti-war sentiments found in folk music of the 1960s. All of the songs on the album were written by Statz except for “Chelsea Hotel #2,” a Leonard Cohen composition.

Statz’s spring 2008 tour ended in early May, with dates in New Orleans, LA and Greenwood, MS. The track “Every Other Time” pays tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the injustices revealed during its aftermath.

The new CD is available at most Madison record stores. Statz hosts a monthly Thursday showcase at the Brink Lounge (www.thebrinklounge.com) in Madison, WI.

“It’s a monthly songwriter’s showcase I am starting,” Statz said of the gig, “I play every month and I get to book in two other acts. So it will be me, an out-of-towner, and another local.”



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