Daniel Johnston has ridden the fine line between genius and insanity his entire career and he’s become a sensation in the indie music world with his off-beat style and tale that reads like something from a comic book, casting him as the unlikely hero.
His music is traditionally rough, sometimes simply created on his home tape recorder and dubbed as needed. Even with the clear brilliance of his lyrics, the recording style can make his work slightly inaccessible to a larger population. Enter Is and Always Was, Daniel’s latest album – produced by Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney).
Instead of the typical Daniel Johnston lo-fi recordings, there’s a full rock orchestra to temper the kiss-offs (Without You, High Horse), accent the commentaries (Mind Movies) and highlight the love songs (Queenie the Doggie, Light of Day).
Lennon-esque reverb and delivery permeate the the title track, Is And Always Was and the record would hardly be complete without the references to the Fab Four (and many of Daniel’s other influences) on Fake Records of Rock and Roll.
And for those who have seen the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005) there’s a full version of I Had Lost My Mind.
Clocking in at almost exactly 35 minutes, it’s not a long album but it’s the quality that counts and Is And Always Was just might be his greatest.