John Kingsley was born and raised in Port Angeles, Washington. His musical influences include Pacific Northwest legends Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana. After playing in several bands in the local Seattle area, Kingsley decided to embark on a solo career. With the new single “Storms”, taken from his solo album “About The Town”, Kingsley carves out ulterior space for his voice and songwriting to shine on their own merits without veering out of what sounds like his natural habitat.
Though on paper the acoustic-based arrangement that John goes with would seem to indicate an anchor in safe, conservative ground, this ballad manages to be yet another decisive step into more emotional, heartrending territory.
Arguably Rick Rubin’s greatest move was telling Johnny Cash that all he needed was his voice and a guitar before they set off on their now iconic American series. John Kingsley blends rustic British folk with vintage Americana rock and strong grungy tones, often reduced to just his voice and an acoustic guitar. And it works superbly for him.
“Storms” presents some rather melancholy introspection, and while it is by no means groundbreaking – nor does it pretend to be – but its damn solid. If there is one thing about acoustic based music, it is that it pushes songwriting towards higher levels and allows the vocals to claim the spotlight. Both of these elements are exactly where Kingsley excels in his craft.
Stripped to an entirely acoustic format, Kingsley’s voice becomes the focus, and as such, his powerful voice, ranging from a deep soulful croon to a sharp, pained wail, carries plenty of emotional resonance to match the lyric. At this stage in his career, John says that he is solely writing songs for his own personal enjoyment.
And in some ways, this record sounds like a veteran songwriter feeling quite comfortable in his own skin. I have to admit, that while the track is immediately likeable, it needs a few listens to fully appreciate its elegant complexity.
John Kingsley has recaptured a songwriting and performing style that became abandoned many years ago, but has been making a strong comeback in recent times. Only he creates more compelling dynamics between his voice and guitar than many others do. And the best thing is he writes thought provoking and highly emotional songs. Moreover he has thoroughly demonstrated with “Storms” that musically, he is his own man.