Johanna Warren
Chaotic Good


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dewinged CONTRIBUTOR (94 Reviews)
May 6th, 2020 | 29 replies


Release Date: 05/01/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rise like a phoenix and burn it all away.

It’s been around seven years since Johanna Warren founded Spirit House Records with long time friend and sound engineer Bella Blasko to provide a platform for female artists to express and promote their art. It was under this label that Warren released the majority of her recordings. From her extraordinary debut, a little folk jewel titled Fates, to her moon scented sophomore nūmūn, and lastly the two mirrored releases aptly named Gemini I & II. Following the release of these two last albums and after a total period of 5 years of touring, writing, and recording, change finally has caught up with the Portland singer songwriter.

Warren’s foolproof spirituality had kept her afloat through the emotional storm that prompted the two different parts of Gemini, but it was breached, and somehow she didn’t feel safe anymore. As an artist, and every content creator will probably feel identified with this at some point, she felt the need of crafting her art from a different source than herself. In order to do so, she thought of creating a character to role play the new music that was already flooding her heart. It was then when she realised that this character already existed, and she was called Johanna.

Up to Chaotic Good, Warren pictures her career like building a big and tall funeral pyre, from when she rises now as a phoenix with newfound strength and purpose. In doing so, her bridge with spirituality has been partly burnt, along with her connection to Spirit House records, and her long term tandem work with Bella Blasko. Chaotic Good is Warren’s fifth release and the first where she had control on most of the album’s recording process. Written, performed and captured in different places, Warren’s latest release is a collection of memories of the last 5 years, pieces of the magical mirror that once was Gemini, which lies now shattered, reflecting the diversity of her craft without the constraints of any kind of loyalty to her past.

As such, Chaotic Good shows an entirely different side of Warren. In a few words, she sounds more grounded, experienced and confident than ever. As is tradition, “Rose Potion” is a strong opener and one of the highlights of the album. Warren tip toes with her voice over one of her trustful guitar arpeggios all the way through a playful chorus. This is Warren under a different light in only a matter of seconds. “Part of it” is driven by a strong drum beat, courtesy of long time conspirator Joe Bertini, and it’s also a rarity in her collection of acoustic guitar driven folk tunes. “Only the Truth” sits her on the piano with the distant cry of a post rock guitar melody and Warren showcasing how much her singing has improved with every release. “Bed of Nails” reminisces the old magic of Warren’s past releases, while “Twisted” does the complete opposite. It’s in this last track where fans of her former works will feel somehow defied by the (quite unexpected) lung-melting screams at the top of her range that helm this 90s grunge infectious track.

After this somewhat overwhelming peak of fury, Warren sails the second half of the album still with changing weather but through less turbulent waters. “A Hole in the Wall” is only her and her guitar, while “Faking Amnesia” delves surprisingly into progressive rock with astonishing results. The short and sweet “Every Death” speaks once more of the magical world she created through her Gemini phase, and I will restrain to quote any lyrics because I would have to include the whole thing here. That said, it features Warren’s writing at her best. “Thru Yr Teeth” is a very stark and classic folk tune, which only serves to highlight the brilliance of “Bones of Abandoned Futures” as a closing track. Warren sitting on her piano once more accompanied by a flute and nothing else, fills the room with her voice, and thus Chaotic Good comes to a beautifully soothing end.

The need to evolve is in every artist’s nature. It’s both a blessing and a curse, as the joy and sense of fulfilment your craft will cast upon others will never be felt the same way by yourself. Furthermore, it’ll be replaced by doubt and insecurity. Johanna realised this, and used it to her advantage. With Chaotic Good she has found a vessel to move forward, to new pastures, guided by different stars. It’s no surprise there are a total of eleven people, including herself, credited as engineers and that this fifth release comes through Philadelphia’s Wax Nine and Carpark Records instead of her former label. This is a new, reimagined Johanna Warren, and she has a lot of stories to tell.



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user ratings (21)
3.5
great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bed of Nails: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVMeOY5Y9VE



Only the Truth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c8nfM7sRkI



Fantastic album, very different from what I expected but still, amazing artist that I hope gets some exposure around these parts.



Album is on BC, so show the love if you can afford it (the red vinyl is mine, all mine).



https://johannawarren.bandcamp.com/

Digging: Crippled Black Phoenix - Ellengaest

WatchItExplode
May 6th 2020


8311 Comments


Her voice slowly wormed into my brain over the course of this album.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2020


29260 Comments


Woah this review is awesome, nice work dude!!

Digging: Dntel - Life is Full of Possibilities

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks brother, and nice dig!

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


15104 Comments


Nice review as always Dewinged

Digging: Nightbringer - Terra Damnata

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2020


3454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[fixed]



Otherwise, fantastic job as usual!!! :3 I'm so excited to delve into this some more, only given it a few not super attentive listens so far, but I'm a fan.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the great feedback as always Blush! (Should have had you proofread it before publishing lol).



Will apply those fixes in a minute.



And tx Notrap!

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fixed all those issues but the last one, since I'm on mobile. Will get on the rest tomorrow!

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2020


3454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Last one is definitely the most subjective, so don't worry about it if it reads well to you already!!! Looking good regardless. < 3

Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2020


26080 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

nice to see this on the front page. love you, Dewi



still not convinced this can touch her last one but it has been growing on me quite nicely. her voice is just too good

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm definitely a bigger fan of Gemini 2 but like you said this has been clicking with me recently. Blush will disagree but still not fully sold on Twisted lol.



My favorite is probably Every Death.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


12037 Comments


Lovely review my man. Love how this is tied into and simultaneously separate from her label and the history on there. Well done

Digging: Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better?

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers Mars !

RichRamp
May 7th 2020


34 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is so good, especially digging Twisted.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2020


1571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fantastic review!! got me intrigued so i'm listening now, sounds great so far

Digging: Seaway - Big Vibe

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 8th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Tx Jesp, glad you are enjoying it!

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
May 8th 2020


15104 Comments


Hahah damn, I just noticed you also used the phoenix symbolism in your summary. Sorry Dewinged, it was not intentional.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2020


21844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lol don't worry man, smth will be featured soon and this will be off the grid. No one will know ;)

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2020


20452 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow this is so good so far

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2020


20452 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is much more aggressive and memorable than her past work (I've only heard Gemini II) and me likey

And Dewi, that red vinyl is gorgeous I'm so jealous :/



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