Album Review: Johnny Jewel – Digital Rain

Johnny Jewel is a musical Renaissance man: he owns a record label, he writes film scores, he collaborated with David Lynch on the recent Twin Peaks soundtrack and he’s a member of Chromatics and Glass Candy. And having grown up in Texas, he’s obsessed with the idea of rain, which is why he’s written this 40 minute musical treatise to rain and snow.

Digital Rain is original, but I hear musical echoes of my childhood in it. Back then, musicians like Kraftwerk, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre found they could build worlds with a synthesiser. Now, Johnny Jewel has revisited some of their techniques to produce an 80s film soundtrack without the film. Personal favourites include the title track, which has the same brittle majesty as Bladerunner’s main theme, and ‘What If’ which sounds like the love theme to any movie featuring a robot in a lead role.

This is a beautiful album, which benefits from repeated listens. It is a soundtrack rather than a main event: singing along is not an option. But when I really need to focus on a task, I reach for this. It is pretty enough that you can sit and listen to it if you want, and background-y enough that when you really need to get on, it will help. It has become my constant companion at work, and I hope it becomes a similar friend to you.

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