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Molly Johnson is back, better than ever

As part of a western tour the pop-jazz diva performs at the Arden Theatre on March 19 with Mike Downes, Robi Botos, and Davide Di Renzo
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Molly Johnson returns to perform a concert at the Arden Theatre on Saturday, March 19 after a five-year hiatus. CHRIS NICHOLLS/Photo

Molly Johnson is a Juno Award winner and an Order of Canada recipient who has one of the most distinctive voices in the Canadian lexicon. 

Her gritty, smoky vocals, create a mesmerizing, nuanced vibe. As a singer she is one of those rare vocal chameleons who can shape-shift her voice into belting out pop-jazz, soul, funk, or rock. 

She recently released her eighth album, It’s a Snow Globe World, in December 2021. Prior to the COVID crash when all venues closed, Johnson also released Meaning to Tell Ya, a 10-track that won high praise from online reviewers and fans alike. 

Unable to tour, the record’s sales were lower than expected. Happy to be back on the road again, Johnson is on an eight-show tour of western Canada. An Arden Theatre concert on Saturday, March 19 is a chance to breathe fresh life into the 10-track pop-jazz album. 

It’s not by accident people are taking notice of the recording. Meaning To Tell Ya is a soulful and personal diary of Johnson’s life experiences, and the results are deeply moving. Working with her was a close-knit group of some of the best eastern Canada’s best musicians: drummer Davide Di Renzo, guitarist Justin Abedin, keyboardist Robi Botos, bassist Mike Downes, organist Pete Kuzma, and saxophonist Bob Sheppard.  

The savvy singer-songwriter also brought in Grammy Award-winning music producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Rodney Crowell, Bruce Cockburn) to helm the works, someone she believed would mesh with her concept. 

“I wanted him to be free. Before we started, he did a deep dive on me. He spent a lot of time listening to me all the way back to my punk days. That was one of the many joys of working with him — that he knew me before we started. I’m inspired by the world around me and I’m a news junkie. We talked about books more than we did music. He’s been such a part of an interesting time in music history,” Johnson said. 

Klein repaid the professional compliment stating in an email, “Molly has the kind of musical gift that cannot be cultivated by musical education or assiduous practice. She has great natural musical instincts, and an irresistible signature voice.” 

Excited about once again playing to live crowds, Johnson said, “Live music is coming back, and people are happy to spread the good news. Come enjoy yourself and remember to wash your hands.” 

The concert is Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at 5 St. Anne Street. Tickets are $40 plus fees. Call the Arden box office at 780-459-1542 or online at www.stalbert.ca/exp/arden/events/


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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