C&I has an exclusive first listen to Americana musician Jeff Warren Johnston’s new single, “El Toro,” off of his upcoming album Undiscovered Country, available April 6.
Rooted in the Americana music scene in Austin, Texas, up-and-coming artist Jeff Warren Johnston abandons rock for his latest album, Undiscovered Country. The Texas native, who counts Waylon Jennings and Tom Petty among his influences, knows how to incorporate a great outlaw story into his songs, as his new 12-track compilation demonstrates.
Available April 6, Undiscovered Country — produced by guitarist Rich Brotherton and arranged by Stephen Barber — features steel guitarist Lloyd Maines, guitarist Redd Volkaert, bassist Bill Whitbeck, organists Stefano Intelisano and Riley Osbourn, fiddler Warren Hood, and the Tosca String Quartet. The album includes Johnston’s new single, “El Toro,” a nostalgic track about a former bull rider longing for his glory days.
“With ‘El Toro,’ I approached it the same way a novelist might create a character,” Johnston says. “I wanted to tell a story about a man who’d risked everything, then lost everything, then risked it and lost it all again out of bittersweet recklessness. He’s singing his swan song, and he’s exiting this planet on his own terms.
“The album parallels that narrative with regard to my motivation for writing it, in that I wrote most of these songs as an exercise in critical abandon. I resolved not to worry so much about how they would be received. I just wrote what I had fun writing and tried to avoid spending too much time hammering pieces of the puzzle together.”
It was Johnston’s first attempt at writing straight country music, an experience he says made him feel “somewhat like I was losing my mind. ... I had always been a devoted rock ’n’ roller, so this project felt a bit like throwing caution to the wind and setting out on a suicide mission, just like the bull rider in my song.”
Backed by an amazing ensemble of instruments, Johnston’s rough vocals power “El Toro,” which hits its lyrical mark in every way. Listen below for the track’s premiere.
For more information on Jeff Warren Johnston and to preorder Undiscovered Country, visit his website.