David E Johnston is an artist who works between performance, motion graphics, and original music who creates electro-percussive music under the moniker of Gift of Tongues. To help bring his music to life, Johnston called upon several musicians who added their talents to the project. The rest of the group consists of Steve Elliot, Brian Wolfe, Craig Levy, Emiliano Valerio, Mike Shobe and Tom Swafford. With each member of the band having a different background, the resulting band of Gift of Tongues contains many different styles coming together to add depth to the music of David E Johnston. The new album from Gift of Tongues is entitled Songs of My People.
Songs of My People from Gift of Tongues begins with the “Preamble”. While “Preamble” is mostly vocals, the sound and feel of the piece brings to mind the track “If I Had a Rock Launcher” from Bruce Cockburn; the helicopter sound effects on the track matched with the angry vocal quality of the narrator while the words on the track themselves have a slightly humorous feel to them.
Once the “Preamble” is over, the real album of Songs of My People from Gift of Tongues begins. The second track, “The Universe,” features a techno feel to the music while also incorporating the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem The Song of Hiawatha into the track. The combination of the two ideas creates a very unique (and unusual) track. The music of the track takes on a stronger dance feel a little later in the track while the lyrics of the song seem to say that you need to speak up if you have something to say.
David E Johnston and the rest of the group prove they have plenty of talent to go around as the album continues. The track “Home” takes on a country/jazz feel while also containing some of the techno approach from “The Universe”. The dobro-meets-techno feel of the track creates another very unique sound on the Songs of My People release. The resulting song has many different aspects to it and stays interesting throughout the three-and-a-half minute play time.
While the music of the tracks is the first thing that catches your attention when listening to the new album from Gift of Tongues, it is hard to ignore the lyrical quality of the songs, as well. The track “Big Bad Wolf” is the perfect example of the quality of the lyrics on the album: The track seems to take a fairytale approach to the words and makes them appeal more to the adult section of the listening audience; it’s like listening to the original text to the Brothers Grimm stories- dark and unforgiving. The music of the track brings to mind the dark quality of a band like Nine Inch Nails. The combination of the dark quality to the lyrics and the music creates a track that will appeal to fans of Goth-like music and those bands that make that style of music.
The off-kilter sense of humor that permeates through nearly every track on Songs of My People from Gift of Tongues adds a lot of substance to the album. One of the tracks that are helped from the sense of humor is the song “I Am a Large Man”. While the words of the song may contain a little darkness to them, the humor seems to decrease the sting a bit. Ultimately, “I Am a Large Man” is a track that is very reminiscent of the style of the music that was created by Michael Nealy and Jock Blaney who were known as a band called 2nu back in the nineties. As “I Am a Large Man” brings to mind visions of songs like “This is Ponderous” from that band “I Am a Large Man” from Gift of Tongues would have fit with 2nu’s music very easily.
Every so often, there comes a band that feels the need to create something just a little different. If you are the type who likes something unique from time to time, Songs of My People from David E Johnston and the rest of Gift of Tongues is just the album for you.
Check out some of the music from Gift of Tongues at their Reverbnation profile.