Tera Johnson: “HOME” – a poet of the vernacular

Tera Johnson is a phenomenal song-writer, with unique, distinctly-styled vocals, and her songs contain such heartfelt, deep, personal and profound messages. I think her 14 track album, “HOME” is a fine piece of work both lyrically and musically, and, I love the soulful style in which she sings, and the organic style in which the album is produced. Tera sounds at the height of her lyrical poetry on this album, and while she takes lots of chances musically, I think that all of them work out. With this album she is showing a powerful musical maturity and is able to easily get her views and experience on life across track after track. With this album, Tera Johnson has opened herself up to both her emotions and her fans.

Now residing in the lush mountains of Colorado, Tera was born and raised in Central Illinois. She has had a fervent interest in music and poetry, since she was 10, and continued to hone her craft, eventually graduating from world acclaimed contemporary conservatory, Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA).

A mother of two children, with a third on the way, Tera has partnered with Berklee alum – John Bamber of JBRecording – residing in Austin TX, to make “HOME”, an album that narrates the intimate life experiences of love, loss, forgiveness and self-empowerment. The album represents an extraordinary snapshot of Tera Johnson’s life, and at the same time reflects many of our own lives.

Conversational poetry is a good phrase to describe Tera Johnson’s work. Unlike many legendary female songwriters before her, Tera does not have the tendency to try to make the simple, complex and impenetrable by burdening the lyrics with overwrought metaphors and arcane symbolism.

Tera’s songs come across as if she’s sitting across from you at a dinner table, sharing her latest experience or trying to piece together fragments of life into something that makes sense. She is a poet of the vernacular, and that gives her poetry surprising power.

When you use the language of the people to express a thought or feeling, the simplicity of that language disarms one and gives any moment real impact. This happens most impressively on “Woman” where Tera examines the varied stages of a woman’s life and into her mature years. It’s also evident in “Beauty ain’t” and the introspective piano ballad “You and Me”.

Tera Johnson is the model of a mother, a wife and a lover, but at the same time she is also a model of an independent thinker. Her independence is not simply the fling-it-in-your-face form of liberation, but is grounded in a deep awareness of who she is, who she is becoming and most importantly, who she is not.

Savor her direct frankness on the rock hard “Do as I Please” or the blues powered “Peoples of All Kinds”. Tera glides through the lyrics with her intensely expressive voice in rhythms generated from her emotional-intellectual interaction with the lyrics instead of simply syncing the vocal with the beat. The messages of her songs are simple yet profound lessons learnt from life.

All throughout the album “HOME”, the songs reminds us that we are in fact built to endure and survive growth and change, despite our struggles to the contrary. Essentially what we need to do is learn to embrace it.



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