Veering in directions familiar and foreign, Will Johnson trades the personal narratives of 2015’s Swan City Vampires for an empathetic posture on his latest solo outing, Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm. A collection of literary tales populated by hapless sinners, Johnson recuses his narrators from judgment of such anti-heroes as the title stripper of “Ruby Shameless” and Mazie Mae, the derided savior of “Heresy and Snakes”, yet offers license to chastise the gentlemen callers of “Filled with a Falcon’s Dreams”.
The naturalistic songs of Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm are painted in oft-discordant sonic textures by Britton Beisenherz, Ricky Ray Jackson, and longtime musical cohort Matt Pence. While the guitar-driven “Every Single Day of Late” and acoustic strum of “Milaak” recall Johnson’s former band, Centro-matic, album centerpieces “Heresy and Snakes” and the dusty rhythms of “Hey-o Hi-o” echo the freeform exploration of South San Gabriel, the musical yang to Johnson’s prior rocking yin.
Since disbanding Centro-matic in 2014, Johnson has proven comfortable with moving his own marker; continuing to deliver erudite truths we fail to acknowledge, such as, “Every day’s an act / Until you change the lines.” Complex and incongruent, the songs of Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm linger like a West Texas wind, proving us all saints.