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John Allen "Sophomore"

For his upcoming album Sophomore John Allen got the support of almost 200 fans on Startnext. Published August 14 2014.

  by Sabine

In his interview with 50K MUSIC in March this year John Allen revealed the title of his upcoming album. Though it is called Sophomore, it is the work of a very grown-up, smart and talented musician.

He may not be famous for his overconfident state of mind, and it might be in his nature to whinge and moan, like he calls it in Lessons I Have Learned – but in his music, his lyrics and melodies, the singer-songwriter from Hamburg radiates the most positive vibes that I ever heard. I have to explain: When I saw John Allen for the first time, I have had a very bad day. John Allen opened for Frank Turner and came onto the stage like a shy schoolboy with a beard, his voice a bit thin at the first song, but then it gained power with every word he sang. I guess, it was On The Road which made me forget about feeling sad, about the bad day, about everything. All I felt was that life was precious. From on that moment, I was totally in love with John Allen and found out that I can be in love with two guys at the same time – Frank Turner will be The Happy King of Hearts forever.

But back to John Allen and to his second album Sophomore: It starts with the single New Years Eve, a song very easy to dance to, featuring the sparkling sound of a violin. While mocking resolutions and drunken party-people with a lot of humour, he also displays the current direction in his music. Because this time he is not alone anymore; this time John Allen comes along with a bunch of musicians.

For example, there is Rick Steff from Lucero, who plays the accordion on Night Falls Over Reno. John Allen proudly explains that Rick used to play accordion for Elvis when he was a little boy, because his father Dick was the King’s tour manager during his final years. John Allen grins and says: “And that means, Elvis and me… we are like this” while he raises his hand and crosses his fingers.

And there is Frank Turner. He sings along at Home and to John Allen this is still a little miracle: Not only that Frank discovered him and has supported him ever since he heard him play for the first time – he also agreed to record something for Sophomore. And again, John Allen didn’t believe him at first. He sent him the raw material of Home and marked the lyrics that Frank Turner should sing, but he never expected to get the finished song five hours later. To cut a long story of enthusiasm short: Sophomore is great. Awesome. An album to listen over and over again without ever getting tired of it. From happy tunes like New Year’s Eve to the playful Rock’n’Roll Romeos to tales about friendship like the quiet Blood Brothers, it is absolutely beautiful and never gets boring. Especially the lyrics are to treasure: While he sings about looking for the real things in life, about love and the search for home, John Allen is heartbreakingly honest, very touching and sometimes even funny.

My personal favorite is Freedom. And not only for the line “freedom is just another word for petrol, steel and chrome”, but in three minutes it summarizes what I love the most about John Allen: his optimistic, life-admiring power and the feeling, that everything is possible when you only just try with all your heart and soul.

If this is whinging and moaning: Please do go on, John Allen.