Reviewed by Aaron Cloutier & Staff
KC Johns’ reinterpretation of the Led Zeppelin classic “Black Dog” is injected with a modern flair, sleek production style, and fiery vocal delivery ushering in a tribute fit for 2021.
Though Johns and company stay true to the original version and don’t stray from the key and structure of the classic, the song is peppered throughout with atmospheric lead guitar lines, courtesy of Brennan Smiley (of The Technicolors), and James Watkins as well as soulful organs played by Blair Masters.
Blair Masters drum programming gave an incredible tight feel to the track compared to John Bonham’s original performance, but the big energy remains apparent. When paired with the dead on bass lines of Mark Hill, the feel to me sounds even a bit funky in comparison to Bonhams more straightforward heft.
Sonically, everything is very clean and well represented here which doesn’t come as a surprise seeing that mixing duties were covered by Tyler Sprat and Mark Needham. The latter of the two whose work with the Killers and Fleetwood Mac undoubtedly leave their sonic stamp on “Black Dog."
Performance wise, everyone here is on point but it’s the vocals that take center stage as Johns sings with genuine emotion, great tone, attitude, and a massive gritty range to boot. Her delivery is stellar on this!
In short, KC Johns and company pay homage to one of the greats while leaving their own sonic stamp upon it that stands out. Do yourself a favor, check this one out and crrrrrrrank it!
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About KC Johns
Every now and then, we all need a break—a feel-good, take-me-away minute when everything is fun, light, and just feels right. We need a little KC Johns. With powerhouse pipes that take you on a whiskey-soaked jaunt to your favorite honky-tonk in the absolute best way possible, KC's music is as infectious and dynamic as she is. Think Miranda Lambert meets Sheryl Crow with a touch of Brandi Carlisle, and you've got an artist with a voice all her own, tied tight around songs that make you feel like you've known her forever.
With deep roots in the Blues capital of the world, KC grew up in Memphis, where she was baptized in soul and fell hard for the stage, the spotlight, and songs that make the world go 'round.
Having discovered her stage legs young, KC jumped feet first into this business called music, performing everywhere from Dollywood, where she was featured in Dolly Parton's "Christmas Coat of Many Colors," to cruise ships around the world. After performing in ports throughout the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and everywhere in between, she made her way up the mainstream music ladder, opening for artists like Luke Bryan, Chris Young, Randy Houser, and Trailer Choir.
2021 is the continuation of her page-turner of a story, with the release of three new singles, co-written and produced by GRAMMY-nominated producer and songwriter Billy Smiley (WhiteHeart, Johnny Cash, and Petra). With the music sensibility of Otis Redding, the raw stylings of Chris Stapleton, and the rock vibe of Led Zeppelin, each song is an audible shot of your libation of choice—they take your breath away, feel good going down, and leave you wanting more. Recorded at the legendary Sound Kitchen in Franklin, Tennessee, the creative process was as revelatory it was fun. The end result is an artist who knows who she is, what she wants to say, and the best way to say it.
For KC, already a seasoned songwriter, the creative energy poured into these songs was as much an exercise in self-discovery as it was a process of an artist coming into her own.