Having been able to sit and talk with John Craigie, he gives off a California surfer/hippy vibe in the way he speaks and carries himself. His newest album, Asterisk the Universe manages to capture this side of Craigie while still saturating the listener with his witty story telling with Americana roots.
Opening the album is Hustlin. It’s one of his more mellow tales with a bluesy sound that makes you feel as if you are sitting at a table in the corner of a dark and dingy bar with a low ceiling of cigar smoke and sticky floors. Hustlin leads you right into one of my favorites from the album: Don’t Ask. Don’t Ask gives me a little feel of some Blackberry Smoke thrown in with Motown-styled vocal arrangements.
Craigie’s version of J.J. Cale’s classic Crazy Mama brings a whole new smooth sexy to the already intimate tempo of the original. Used It All Up is a short break from masculinity and comes in with some haunting female vocals reminiscent of Alison Krauss.
My favorite thing about Asterisk the Universe is that distinct uniqueness of each track but the saturation of classic Craigie throughout the whole album. There is no denying his vocals, vibes, and style but each song is clearly it’s own and keeps away the mundane that so many albums fall into by sounding like one long, constant song.
The only thing missing from John’s newest album is his witty banter and engaging storytelling he unravels during his live performances. Other than that personal touch, Asterisk the Universe is his best collection of tracks so far. It’s rare that I can listen to an entire album more than once without skipping a track or two that I just don’t feel. This is one of those rare albums that keep the listener dialed in from the first vocal to the very last guitar strum.