Band: Robbing Johnny; Members: John Murrell – Vocals, Piano, Acoustic Guitar and Songwriting; Pat D. Robinson – Vocals, Lyrics and Harmonica; Jordan Brooks – Drums, Percussion and Piano; John Mahoney – Bass and Vocals; and Evan Harris – Guitar
Album: ‘Cold March’
Living as an outsider who’s bravely trying to assimilate into a seemingly exotic new culture can be an equally terrifying and exhilarating experience. The versatile up-and-coming New York City-based quintet, Robbing Johnny, powerfully emoted their experiences of adapting to their new environment on their recently released bodega folk rock debut album, ‘Cold March.’
Throughout the record, the ingenious storytellers focus on the unique worlds that collide in their new city, and offer an intimate exploration into the occurrences that have made them who they are today, especially as outsiders who have moved to New York. The musicians’ thorough attention to detail as they share the way they have evolved in each of their songs will surely resonate with their listeners.
‘Cold March’ begins with the electrical indie folk-inspired entry, ‘Sylvia,’ which is one of the most noteworthy songs on the band’s initial full-length effort. Backed by a hypnotizing acoustic guitar, the group’s lead singer, John Murrell, immediately proves what spellbinding vocal strength. The first track mesmerizingly chronicles the beginning stages of arriving in, and exploring, New York City. As the tune intriguingly delves into a faster-paced tempo and instrumentation, with an exceptional use of the harmonica in particular, the quintet also chronicles their determination of getting noticed by the person who intrigues them.
The sophomore effort on Robbing Johnny’s introductory album is its title track, which highlights Murrell and his equally talented bandmates’ wide range of expertise in diverse genres. With more of a unique rock-rap edge, ‘Cold March’ reveals the musicians’ determination to survive in the city, no matter how difficult it is to find genuine relationships.
‘Cold March’ then delves into another noteworthy and standout entry, ‘Red Bird in the City,’ which features a soothing piano and entrancing acoustic guitar. Murrell emotionally relays how he’s been thinking about the connection he used to have with a former love, and pondering what she’s been doing lately. The singer also passionately croons about how he hopes to reunite with his former love, despite the distance that has recently separated them.
‘Bodega Vegan’ is the next song on ‘Cold March,’ and features Murrell confessing how he wants the difficulties to end in his life. Fueled by a distinctive mix of hip-hop piano, guitar and percussion, the singer vulnerably admits how he’s been struggling with the problems that have been plaguing them.
The next track on Robbing Johnny’s initial record is ‘Grandfather’s Jacket,’ which starts with a folk-inspired classical piano. Murrell recounts how he wanders around town, wearing his grandfather’s title jacket, as he searches for happiness.
‘Grandfather’s Jacket’ then transitions into another noteworthy tune, ‘Highbridge Park,’ which also features reassuring and sentimental indie folk vocals, guitar and piano. Murrell relatably questions his identity, and how he can pay tribute to his hopes and dreams, in a song that can surely become a commercial hit on adult contemporary and pop charts.
The last three tracks on ‘Cold March’ unfortunately aren’t as memorable and noteworthy on the first six tunes. While the final tunes, including ‘Summer Sux,’ ‘Worms in the Soil’ and ‘Cold March Reprise,’ feature soulful and acoustic blues-inspired vocals and guitar riffs, the tunes don’t feature the band members’ full diverse musical prowess.
Living as an outsider who’s courageously trying to blend into a seemingly exotic new culture can be an equally frightening and invigorating experience. But Murrell and his fellow bandmates in Robbing Johnny enthrallingly emoted their experiences of adapting to their new environment on ‘Cold March.’ Despite a few underwhelming songs, the stimulating debut album offers an overall intimate exploration into the occurrences that have made the musicians the people they are today.