Jude Johnstone’s new release Blue Light on BoJak Records is a rediscovery of a musical style rather than a departure from the flavor of her previous works in critically acclaimed cds “Coming of Age,” and “On a Good Day.” The music of Blue Light possesses the sensitive, soulful and poetic qualities found in the prior discs but returns Johnstone to the musical influences she grew up with in Ellsworth, Maine listening to Sarah Vaughn, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney and Glen Miller from her father’s record collection. “I thought it was just on in the background but, lo and behold, it had crept into my subconscious and my songwriting. After my father’s death in 1987, I noticed that I couldn’t hear Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” without getting all misty-eyed,” said Johnstone.
The genesis for Blue Light, and the revisit to Johnstone’s jazz/blues/torch roots was the passing of legendary engineer/producer Henry Lewy (Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young) in 2006. Johnstone and manager Bob Burton had worked with Lewy in 1983 when they recorded a project at A&M studios. During those sessions the song “Over and Done,” was recorded with Chuck Damonico (Tom Waits) on standup bass and Mark Hatch (Ray Charles, Bette Midler) on trumpet. The song was a highlight from the sessions and when revisiting the recordings after Lewy’s death it became a source of inspiration for Blue Light. The CD includes a bonus track of Lewy’s original recording of “Over and Done,” as a special tribute. Johnstone added, “Henry’s death prompted me to finally put this project together and “come home” as he had beckoned me to do for so long…and this is the result. We did it live in the studio---the old fashioned way—over 3 days, then added the strings.”
Blue Light conveys the emotional depth of Johnstone’s songwriting delivered in her passionate voice supported by sophisticated, spacious arrangements. It was recorded at Mad Dog Studios in Burbank, Ca with musicians Danny Frankel (Rickie Lee Jones, Beck) on drums; David Piltch (K.D. Lang, Madeleine Peyroux) bass; Matt Margucci, trumpet; Marc Macisso, sax, and Freddy Koella (Bob Dylan) on guitar. Recording engineer was Ken Allardyce (Stevie Nicks, Green Day), Charles Duncan mixing engineer and mastering with Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering. Johnstone was the producer, played keyboards and wrote all the songs except a rare co-write on “Best Friend.”