Not long after crossing beyond the neon into Al’s Tavern, one might catch murmurs drifting up and down the bar during Dean Johnson’s bartending shifts – nudges and whispers that he might just be the best songwriter in town. “Wait ’til you hear him sing. Just don’t ask him to do it, because he won’t. He might do another show this year, but probably not.” Al’s regulars, howsoever biased, speak of his talent like a family secret – Seattle folklore. How many times, and for how many years, has Dean elusively replied to some variation of the question, “When will there be a record?”
The phrase “hidden gem” would seem appropriate here, but it’s a misnomer when talking about Dean Johnson. He shines bright, in plain sight, and it was only a matter of time before people stopped to take a look. Dean’s gentle and passionate approach to songwriting has inspired many, and his work provides the listener the opportunity to believe once more that a song can be more than the sum of its parts. If you catch even a phrase of his melodies or the sobering tone of his voice, it waltzes its way into your heart like a letter written, signed, sealed and delivered just for you.
His debut album 'Nothing for Me, Please' was recorded at Mashed Potato Records in New Orleans with the help of Sam Gelband and Charlie Meyer, Dean’s bandmates in The Sons of Rainier; as well as Mashed Potato regulars Sam Doores, Duff Thompson and Steph Green. The record is a hazy, relaxed daydream – anthems for those who know the sweetness and coldness of quiet moments, the power and the pain of love. Whether you’ve been waiting patiently these many for Dean to release these songs, or you’re just now coming across his work for the first time, the name Dean Johnson, much like his songs, won’t soon leave your mind.
'Nothing for Me, Please' is out now on Mama Bird Recording Co.