Disclosure here: I am a HUGE John Common fan and had already purchased several copies of this CD for different parts of my existence (first library buyer, then late blooming fan, girlfriend, friend, etc.) before it wound up in my review pile, where I felt strangely guilty and felt I should give it back or at least say I was in love with the CD and intimately acquainted with its innards. I had even showed up for his CD release party with my inner circle and half my block. Yes, I’m a certified John Common groupie. What’s not to love? The accolades flowing in are well deserved. In local music and beyond, it just doesn’t get better than this. Yes, John Common, man who pushes bounds of Indie genre to snapping is not local, although he’s loved locally by fellow artists, fans and critics, alike. (He’s out of town quite a bit, to be sure.) As far as genre, Beautiful Empty is so rich it could be Experimental Classical were it not so jazzy and funk-tastic and, at its heart, just really fine Indie Rock.
On the local front, John Common not only gets people on streets everywhere to buy his CDs and loop them (I listened to it over and over and not as a reviewer, just as a fan; I caught friends doing the same), he truly is an artist’s artist and is well loved by the press, to put it minimally. Were he a lesser artist, you’d get an esoteric album, one that felt like it were put out by the last man on Earth, where the last man on Earth was in the studio just to entertain himself. Beautiful Empty doesn’t have that feel, although it does push the packet plenty. For one, each musician is valued and is genuinely heard as individual standouts even, by fans, in the final product. Neither did John Common feel burdened by the last round of rave reviews the local press had bestowed and the positive pre-reviews. “The only pressure I really felt when we were making Beautiful Empty was from myself,” Common said in an email. “These records last for a very long time. It's not about making them ‘perfect.’ It's more about making sure that we capture the feel and the sound that's in the room and in our heads. … Honestly, I'm always a little shocked when people really love it. Because making a record is like building this very personal and specific little world. And when you finally let other people into that secret little world, it's always surprising – and incredibly humbling – to imagine something so personal and specific connecting with other people.” -- By Jeanie Straub
John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light at Red Rocks.
CAN YOU HEAR ME
by John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light. Directed by David Dyster/Umbrella Brigade.