Album Review: Teagan Johnston – Sentimental Ballad

The Breakdown

Teagan Johnston's full-length debut 'Sentimental Ballad' is an astonishingly beautiful, reflective and personal collection of tracks.

Following her set at this year’s SXSW, alt-popper Teagan Johnston has released her full-length debut ‘Sentimental Ballad’, an astonishingly beautiful, reflective and personal collection of tracks.

Setting the tone with the piano-led ‘I just wanna look through the eyes of love again’, Teagan quickly introduces her atmospheric production and delicate, breathy vocal delivery on the one minute intro. Affecting and instantly taking you into her dreamy pop world, the track leads flawlessly into the previous single ‘Blue Monday’, an impactful ballad that showcases the intoxicating, melancholic mood captured across the record. With beautiful chord changes and moments of quirky production (repitched vocals and atmospheric reverbs), the single captures the striking Phoebe Bridger-esque tone that has gained Teagan widespread acclaim.

Elsewhere on the record ‘Nineteen’ and ‘Faster’ demonstrates Teagan’s honest lyricism, often telling a story through her words with poetic flair. Able to keep her tracks engaging despite the stripped backing, Johnston does not need massive, complex instrumentation for her songs to shine.

The album’s highlight for me, one of the more full, musically complex tracks on the album ‘Get Out Of Town’ leans more heavily into Teagan’s alt electronic-pop sensibilities, taking the same intensity of the ballads found throughout the album and offering up a thicker backing of synths, electronic drums and deep bass. Instantly comparable to Bat For Lashes, the 80’s-esque soundscape is stunning at every turn, from the intertwining arpeggiated piano lines and swirling synth lines to the epic tempo change that slurs the track gently into its beautifully harmonised, effortlessly close, intensely emotional and person chorus.

12 tracks which showcase Teagan Johnston’s ability to wear her heart on her sleeve, ‘Sentimental Ballad’ has moments comparable to Nick Cave as well as moments of synth-heavy musical creativity comparable to Bat For Lashes, all topped with Teagan’s effortlessly engaging lead vocal. A debut full of reflective melancholy, painfully honest, hard-hitting lyricism and beautiful melodies, this is an album that sticks with you well after the first listen.

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