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Hope Is Contagious Too – Johnny Chops  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It seems as if we have all set our focus to the musical revelation that we thought we wanted to happen that we have missed the musical revolution that we actually needed. Over the last few years there have been many calls for the “new punk,”  some new strain of incendiary music which musically reflects the turbulent times that we find ourselves in. Then, along comes the Covid pandemic and the isolation that it imposed on us became an unexpected breeding ground for something wholly unexpected. A musical revolution perhaps but one more singer-songwriter shaped, solitary by its very nature, reflective, understated, simultaneously nostalgic and reminiscent, optimistic and forward-looking. 

The wonderfully named Johnny Chops and the equally splendidly titled Hope Is Contagious Too, is the perfect torch bearer for such a polite and private revolution as is happening behind closed doors. Plus, any song title which sounds as if it could be a slogan on the fastest selling t-shirt of the year is, in many ways, already a winner. Taking a small dose of the 70’s solo songwriter/folk boom, a flavour of the likes of Jackson Brown and James Taylor, a dash of pop sensibility and a liberal helping of modern vibes and slow-burning rock swagger, and you end up with music giving off a timeless feeling, a song which feels as if it would be at home in any decade out of the last five.

But if the feeling is timeless, the reference point is very specific. We have all used whatever we have had to to get through the current lockdown, be it humour, rage, creativity, the embrace of the family, for some even revelling in the enforced break from the rat race. And for all of the anxiety which has come with this imposed isolation, there have been many silver-linings, people have found time for each other, or to pick up abandoned hobbies and projects, we have looked to each other to lean on and created unexpected community bonds.

Johnny Chops seems to have taken a slightly reflective path through the dark times, revelling in old film footage of his wife Andy’s family and friends from way back, the same footage which makes up the background to the video. But it is such reminders of the things that really matter, such loving filmic records, such sweet reminiscences, which remind us of what life is really all about. And it is such sentiments which drive the optimism of the song. 

And perhaps this is the revolution that we need right now. Not one which tears down political structures or which tries to overturn societal injustices, though that may be just around the corner. But before that happens, maybe it is healthy to be reminded of family and of love. That we are social animals, needed and nurturing each other in a hundred different ways. That there is light at the end of the tunnel, that there is always a hand waiting to lift you up, an embrace to rejuvenate you and to give you the will and the strength to carry on.

As I said at the start, this might not be the revolutionary act that you were expecting, but it is the evolutionary act of love that you need right now. Anything else will just have to wait!

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