Libby Johnson goes back to basics for solo debut and the film “Trust the Man”

Critically acclaimed New York singer/songwriter Libby Johnson has decided to get back to the basics with her solo debut album ‘Annabella’ on Wrong Records. The album will be released September 5th.

She is the featured artist in the upcoming Fox Searchlight film “Trust the Man” starring David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Songs from ‘Annabella’ are prominently featured in the movie.

Touring the world as a founding member of 22 Brides (Zero Hour/Universal) has given Libby the experience and music industry know-how to release a record on her own. The album’s incredibly memorable songs have a soulful, bluesy, yet rock-based feel that will stay with you after just one listen and grow on you each and every time.

The artist has had a long road to reach the release. Her previous musical career has been dominated by the beloved and critically acclaimed the “tunefully intense” (Billboard) New York City band 22 Brides, formed with her sister Carrie.

“There was a place in me that felt like I can’t do this by myself,” she said in a recent press release. “There’s a deep place in my heart for that band. I loved working with my sister. But I am ready to let go of the band in a really positive way.”

Of the title track to ‘Annabella,’ Johnson says, “I wrote that song one day when I was really sick. I had laryngitis when I was singing it. We took the demo and added [drummer] Steve [Jordan’s] parts.” The effect has a desperate, rasping edge added to Johnson’s versatile voice atop a blues-rooted groove.
 
She explains, “The song is really what the Annabella character wishes she could hear someone say to her. She’s remembering a feeling she had for someone, wishing it were still there and longing for it to come back.”
 
Producer and Wrong Records chief Daniel Wise recorded ‘Annabella’ with a veteran band at The Shed in New York, where artists from John Mayer to Rod Stewart, Herbie Hancock to the North Mississippi All Stars have previously recorded. The resulting eleven-track album shows co-producer Johnson to be a multi-faceted singer, musician and songwriter and an artist of singular vision.

After Wise played a few tracks for “Trust the Man” writer-director Bart Freundlich, the latter was stunned and decided to edit several scenes around Johnson’s music.

“I think that the themes of the film and the songs on my record had a commonality and that’s why they worked well together,” Johnson said in the release. “We were both writing about disharmony, resolution and the struggles that go on in a relationship, and the record and film both really speak to that.”
 
“Trust The Man” also spawned the infectious “Indelible Mark,” which plays over the film’s end credits. It’s one of the most memorable melodies on an album full of them. 
But ‘Annabella’ is deeply rooted in Johnson’s other life experiences as well.
 
Born on an army base in Germany, Libby moved with her family around the east coast and subsequently to Nairobi, Kenya at the age of 13. She was a self-taught piano player until formally studying jazz in her teens, and we taught to play guitar by her folk singing mother. Her father played bagpipes. Libby performed her first live gig at age 14 in a pub on the outskirts of Nairobi to a besotted and diverse audience of locals.
 
Johnson first moved to New York with a pocketful of jazz standards and eked out a living playing piano bars. While in New York, she and Carrie formed 22 Brides, an outfit that quickly earned notice for its unconventional harmonies, swirling folk-rock melodies and sophisticated lyrics. “I played percussion and keyboards. Later on, I learned how to play bass,” she says. The band’s three albums, released in the 1990s on Zero House/Universal, landed the Johnson sisters on World Café, and Lilith Fair tour in 1998. 22 Brides paid its dues on the road, headlining and opening for artists Ani DiFranco and Freedy Johnston. Though ‘Annabella’ represents Johnson’s first solo foray, she does not rule out the possibility of another Brides record.

‘Annabella’ is now available for pre-order at Amazon. Visit the music database for more information and a complete track listing. ‘Trust the Man’ Soundtrack is now available for pre-order at Amazon. Visit the soundtrack database for more information and a complete track listing.

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