Zortman’s John Steinhardt, a multi-instrumentalist also known as Schizoid Johnny or “Slide Willie” Johnson, has put out a new album after his 2016 effort that incorporated all 21 albums of his previously-released original material. A performance artist for over 30 years, Steinhardt has toured worldwide and is currently the band director at Hays-Lodgepole High School in Hays.
Schizoid Johnny’s voice is a barrel-chested bass, deep and burry and suited to rock ’n roll, but he is comfortable in many genres. On this effort, I hear country flavors, some pop nuances, a bit of the blues, and a whiff of folk. “Shadow Man,” the title tune, has a country beat paired with tinkly piano and crisp drums; Steinhardt enunciates every word in a sandpapery delivery. He also takes off on one of his patented fuzzed-up rock guitar riffs near the end.
“John 3.3,” barely a minute long, is orchestral with bells and lots of powerful, sustained chords, creating church-like overtones. Steinhardt reprises it, too; that incarnation has a lighter music-box feel.
“I’m not Losin’ My Faith” has a snappy pop-rock sound, Schizoid Johnny whispering in an echo-y, effects-laden voice that sounds a bit like David Bowie struttin’ his stuff. He becomes “Slide Willie” Johnson on “The Universe Is Chaos,” playing some bluesy slide guitar amid chunky, thick drums and tight horn riffs.
“Sally’s Calico Dress,” a catchy instrumental, is an up-tempo dancer with a cool opening guitar riff. A giant horn section enters to fill out the sound; I imagine clapping and line dancing too.
“Murder at Murdo” is a waltz with perhaps a subtle mando riff and reverb-y surf guitar. Abruptly changing tempo midway through, it’s eerily off-kilter. Good timing for the darkening days of fall!
– Mariss McTucker