Is And Always Was


Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Things bog down a bit toward the end with the droning “Tomorrow Never Knows” homage of “Lost In My Infinite Memory” and the plodding title track, but the album still is a quick, concise listen, and may actually serve--after nearly 30 years--as this American original’s most accessible yet.
  2. It's the extraordinary wealth of hooks that leave a lasting impression here: Is and Always Was is hugely fun and endlessly listenable.
  3. Is And Always Was is an energetic, accessible album, and while Johnston’s shaky, sluggishly lisped vocals haven’t changed, he uses them confidently.
  4. Johnston devotees will get a kick out of it, for sure--out of the successful merging of Johnston and a rich, full-band aesthetic, and just out of the sound of Johnston doing well and writing well, finally rocking out on the wide screen he's usually had to imagine.
  5. Johnston's craft as a vocalist can rise to the level of Falkner's well-crafted soundscapes, he's going to sound out of place on his own albums if he keeps making records like Is and Always Was.
  6. 70
    Often brilliant, occasionally creepy songs such as the bitter toe-tapper "Without You" and the optimistic six-minute epic "Light of Day" aren't appreciably improved by the trappings, but still cut deeply
  7. Falkner manages to set up a sort of production halfway house, which raises everything out of the bedroom, but still burrows deep to the tender core at the heart of Daniel’s songs.
  8. Revered outsider artist makes move on the mainstream.
  9. Given that it's reassuring that he is writing and recording solo material again, it's disappointing that his fully finished renderings don't hold the same fascination as the sketches.
  10. Under The Radar
    Johnston's first album in six years, Is and Always Was, is uniformaly listenable. [Holiday 2009, p.78]
  11. Mojo
    With songs of fake rock 'n' roll, magical dogs, lost minds and love, this is pop with wobbly wheels and new found joy and optimism. [Dec 2009, p. 95]
  12. Q Magazine
    Bipolar Texan tunesmith Daniel Johnston will never be more than an acquired taste. [Dec 2009, p. 126]
  13. Uncut
    Here, courtesy of producer Jason Falkner, his curious rock 'n' roll songs are given a crisp, clean production, a belssing which sometimes threatens to expose the - how you say? - idiosyncrasies of Johnston's singing. [Jan 2010, p. 115]
  14. The harsh truth makes itself clear: overdubs and studio pre-meditation trivialize Johnston’s music.
  15. Personally, I wouldn’t be that interested in going back to Is And Always Was (what’s in a title?) again. For devout followers, not new converts.

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