I have to admit that reviewing the posthumous release of Dax Johnson’s long-awaited vocal album has been one of the most emotional musical experiences I’ve ever had. Dax was a friend who drifted in and out of my life over the course of about seven years. His death in November 2005 left the many people who were affected by his huge presence feeling a terrible loss. Dax was probably the most charismatic person I’ve ever met, both when performing and on a personal level. He seemed to enjoy his bad-boy image, and yet he was a gentle giant. So many puzzles, and yet so transparent. Dax talked for years about the vocal album he was working on, but he left us before it was finished. To help find closure, Dax’s family and friends gathered studio recordings from 2004 as well as bits and pieces that turned up from other studios and tapes Dax made to capture musical ideas, and created a very vivid portrait of Dax and his internal and external worlds. The first time I listened to The Beauty of Human Error
was difficult, but the more I listen, the more I realize what a wonderful gift it is to have this recording of Dax at his most personal and poetic. Dax accompanies himself on piano (with and without his fourth pedal invention) on most of the tracks, and plays guitar on others. Suzie Bradford, Dax’s frequent duet partner, appears on some of the tracks, blending her beautiful, lyrical feminine voice with Dax’s baritone. “Pet the Freak” has additional instruments and is more of a rock song. As with his piano music, it’s impossible to classify Dax’s vocal music. Although there are elements of rock, classical, and folk music, this is quite simply Dax Johnson’s unique artistry expressed in his own voice. Sometimes angry, sometimes gentle and loving, sometimes lost and bewildered, and sometimes painfully sad, these songs let us into the mind and soul of a man who struggled with manic depression and drug addiction, and yet gave so much of himself to others with his music and larger-than-life personality. There is a bonus track included that is Dax being playful and funny, completing the portrait. Dax Johnson was a truly unique individual and an enormously gifted artist whose light went out far too soon. Thanks to his recordings, his spirit will live on in his music.
The Beauty of Human Error
is available from daxjohnson.com
. All proceeds will go to the Dax Johnson Children’s Education Fund. Very highly recommended!