Freedy Johnston ‘Never Home’ [Elektra Records] ****
In a nutshell, ‘Never Home’ is far better than Johnston’s last record, ‘This Perfect World’, and very certainly up there with his first, ‘Can You Fly’. Although largely unknown over here [once again despite No Disco’s better efforts], Johnston is an acclaimed, if still very much acquired, taste back in America where he’s earned far more glowing adjectives than platinum discs. Comfortable at a writing table that would also, in an ideal world, seat John Hiatt, Tom Petty and T-Bone Burnett, Freedy Johnston rarely rises to the outwardly spectacular. It’s the gentle acoustic simplicity of unassuming songs like ‘He Wasn’t Murdered’, however, that stands him out in any pool. But while ‘Never Home’ is largely a fine record, one must surely begin to wonder, third time around, if Johnston really can walk the cross-over.
originally published Sunday Tribune June 1st, 1997