Five Right Now: Johanna Warren

Having swapped America for rural Wales, songwriter, artist and multi-instrumentalist, Johanna Warren, is set to release her new record, Lessons for Mutants, via Wax Nine. 

Beautifully erratic in genre and style, Lessons For Mutants embraces Warren’s roaming heart allowing her to follow where her muse leads. Whether that is jaunty pop rock of opener, I’d Be Orange, or the abandoned bedroom ambiance of County Fair, the record never ceases to entertain and captivate. Here we get a glimpse into the five tracks she can’t get enough of at the moment:

Kendrick Lamar – Silent Hill

Oh I just love him so much. The day this record came out I had to pull over on the highway to sob because it hit so hard. This track is my current favorite because the beat is just particularly insane, and I find myself singing the little intro (‘Why oh why oh why oh… why you keep fucking with me?’) every day as a sort of self-soothing practice in a world that is, indeed, continually fucking with us. The whole album is deeply inspiring to me to get more real, more intimate, with myself, my music, and the world. It’s basically an open diary about sex addiction, recovery, and healing generational trauma…narrated by his fiancé, interwoven with audio recordings from therapy sessions. What a brave, brutally honest artistic gesture. I totally get the Jesus imagery, because I feel like with this record Kendrick has really splayed himself open and made of himself an offering in a truly Christ-like ‘eat of my flesh’ kind of way. 

Josh Sa-Ha Hines – Luna

As far as I can tell, the only reason Josh isn’t the most famous man on Earth is because he is such a gentle and humble soul who’s too wise to be out there ‘hustling.’ His music is pure medicine, and I hope more people get to experience it. Josh is a phenomenal talent and a beautiful, benevolent being to boot. He has the voice of an angel and makes his guitar sound like some otherworldly harp.  I had a very hard time picking just one song of his because they are all exquisite, so please just go listen to everything of his that you can find. 

Eleanor Murray – Virginia

Eleanor is a living legend in my book. I had the honour of touring with her many moons ago and it felt like a real privilege to be in her presence and get to hear her play every night.  The album this song is from, Bury Me into the Mountain, is perfect in its gleaming song-craft and hauntingly sparse atmospheric production. It never fails to transport me to a misty realm of sweet earthy nostalgia.

James Bird – Tammuz

I met James when he subletted my little cabin in Portland for while I was on tour. After our first meeting I saved him in my phone as Gryffindor, lol, because I was so impressed by the pure radiant goodness of his heart. His musical expressions are so beautiful, so connected to source, I find it impossible to not feel flooded with love when listening to his songs. 

Buffy St. Marie – The Angel

Been feeling Buffy extra hard these days. The unbridled emotionality in her voice is eternally inspiring. Even though I’ve listened to Illuminations loads, I recently had one of those experiences with this song where you hear something familiar as though for the first time. The lyric ‘Give up your treasured wounds’ really poked me in the solar plexus. I think it’s important to examine how attached we can get to our suffering—how committed our ego is to the narrative of personal victimisation. ‘Give up the vows you’ve taken/ And you will live, and you will learn to fly.’ Yes please.

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