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Monday, July 4, 2022

Life + Arts

EP Review: Johnnyswim’s “A Johnnyswim Christmas”

With their new eponymous EP, “A Johnnyswim Christmas,” Nashville-inspired husband-and-wife duo Johnnyswim invites fans to their fireplace for some powerful soul-folk vocals for the holidays.

Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano, daughter of the late Donna Summers, released their first full-length album, “Diamonds,” this year. Although still mostly underground, it generated enough success to allow the couple to release their fourth EP just a few months later.

For fans, this may be the last Christmas spent with just the couple. Ramirez and Sudano announced Oct. 29 on Facebook that they were expecting a child, captioning a photo of Sudano holding her belly:

“Its official! We are adding a third member to the band coming Feb ’15! #itsaboy #yesthisisanannouncement”

In the EP, which was made available on iTunes and Spotify Nov. 10, Johnnyswim picks their way into an original song, “Christmas Day,” which features, as usual, lots of guitar, but also highlights the winter season with jingling sleigh bells.

In every aspect, the track embodies the almost entirely acoustic sound that the band cherishes in some of its top tracks, like “Home” and “Don’t Let It Get You Down.”

In “The Christmas Waltz,” Ramirez and Sudano layer their traditional, smooth blues with a staccato chiming of percussive “oohs.” The pair, not averse to using non-conversational English like “hmm,” “oh” and even whistling, seems to dance with each other, a guitar and a microphone.

The two vocal powerhouses remaster the archaic hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful” in a moving harmony that reminds fans of the reason for Johnnyswim’s season.

A flurry of guitar-plucking, drumbeats and Sudano’s calling out to God, the heavy meaning behind this cover stands out among the mostly light-hearted alternatives this EP offers.

The couple unites for the finale in the responsorial and almost-homophonic “What Are You Doing Christmas Eve?” Sweetly, the couple flirts with each other.

With the song’s slow and deliberate pacing, it is clear that Johnnyswim is reluctant to let their listeners take off their headphones. Blues-lovers, soul-lovers and Christmas-lovers will undoubtedly be putting this album on repeat.

The Sudano-Ramirez family frequents Texas, having played at venues such as Lakewood Church and the Mucky Duck in Houston in the last few years. This Christmas, fans can catch Johnnyswim in Dallas at the Granada Theater on Dec. 3 and in Waco at Baylor University on Dec. 4.

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