Caleb Johnson’s Debut Album “Testify” Press Release and Pre-Order

American Idol Winner Caleb Johnson Album Testify

Caleb Johnson Album Testify

When I first heard that American Idol winner, Caleb Johnson, would drop his debut album on August 12, I didn’t believe it. No Idol winner had released an album so quickly. The label tried with the previous season’s winner, Candice Glover, but the recorded ended up being delayed twice–until the following winter.

But here we are, a mere 4 days before Testify is set to be released. As Season 13 is the lowest rated in American Idol’s history, pushing out Caleb’s album as quickly as possible is a smart move. Strike while the iron is…barely lukewarm. But it’s better than nothing.

Although the singer has a listening party scheduled in LA for the day of the album’s release, and others set for Phoenix (8/13) and Denver (8/12), major media promo probably won’t being in earnest until the American Idol Live tour winds down at the end of the month.

In the meantime, you can listen to a FULL STREAM of Testify at Amazon, and pre-order while you’re at it. Click to Listen.  Also, pre-order is available at iTunes.  Caleb recently announced the first single, “Only One.” The watch is on to see if /how hard the label will push the song to radio.

You can also pre-order a CD that comes with a personally autographed booklet from the greatest record store on earth. Probably half my CD collection comes from the New England based Newbury Comics. Click for order deets.  I’ve copied and pasted the hyperbolic press release, posted at the site, for your reading pleasure. Rawk and Roll people.

In the tradition of rock & roll’s most iconic performers, Caleb Johnson turns his own passion and unrest into music with a fierce and gut-punching but wildly uplifting emotional power. Winner of the thirteenth season of American Idol, the 23-year-old North Carolina native has already electrified audiences of millions with his commanding vocals and a fiery energy that honors his longtime love of hard rock and heavy metal. Now on his first album Testify-a bombastic yet undeniably soulful debut whose title nods to its revival-like spirit-Johnson further proves his vitality as a vocalist while also revealing his dynamic sense of genre-bending songwriting.

Throughout Testify, Johnson-a lifelong music obsessive equally inspired by the Southern soul of Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, the classic rock of Led Zeppelin and Queen, and the heavy metal of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest-flaunts his versatility by tearing through brutal and blistering barnburners, blues-soaked rock numbers, and heart-on-sleeve ballads with an unstoppable intensity. Johnson co-wrote nearly every song on the album, heading into the studio soon after claiming his Idol victory and working nonstop to bring Testify’s boundary-blurring but wholly unified sound to life. “After the show there was this great momentum going, so I wanted to keep that up and get writing and bang out as many songs as I could,” explains Johnson, who enlisted Howard Benson (Rascal Flatts, The All-American Rejects, My Chemical Romance) as producer on Testify. “The whole process was really organic and spontaneous, and what ended up coming through were songs that are powerful and dramatic and sometimes theatrical, but always with this totally visceral feeling to them.”

Written and recorded in just three frenetic weeks, Testify harnesses the feverish energy of the album-making process and intensifies it with Johnson’s stunning vocals and the furious playing of Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney, former Nine Inch Nails/Guns N’ Roses drummer Josh Freese, and guitarist Phil X (a multi-instrumentalist who’s previously played with Rob Zombie and Tommy Lee). Just as Johnson’s vocal performance showcases his staggering range, Testify affirms his chameleon-esque ability to take on so many subgenres of rock & roll with ferocity and ease. Songs like “Sailing Away” (a full-on, awesomely escapist rock anthem built on lead-heavy riffs and pile-driving rhythm) find Johnson matching each shredding guitar solo with soaring vocal flights, while the aching piano ballad “Fighting Gravity” and the huge-hearted, acoustic-guitar-laced “Only One” illuminate his more tender side. On the smoldering “Save Me,” swampy guitar tones and bluesy grooves tangle with gospel-like harmonies as Johnson gives his own twist on the age-old lyrical plea for redemption (“Save me/Save half of my soul”). And with “Let Me In” (featuring Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ formidable horn section), Testify transforms into an all-out Stax-style explosion with Johnson gloriously taking the helm as a powerhouse preacher of soul.

As he moves forward with his music on Testify, Johnson notes a guiding principle of his songwriting is to build off his Southern roots with sounds and textures discovered through his years of exploring all strains of rock & roll. “Being from the South is something that gets into your blood and your soul, and I think that comes out very clearly in my music,” he says. Also fascinated by the over-the-top vocals and macabre imagery of heavy metal-and with ambitions of someday diving into film-directing and making a movie that honors his loves of rock & roll and horror-Johnson tempers his more unbridled influences with a sense of songcraft inspired by seminal melodists like Bernie Taupin and Paul McCartney. The result, as heard on Testify, is a breed of rock music that’s fresh but timeless, with extraordinary staying power. “There’s a lot of different flavors in these songs-the old-school blues jams and the straight-up, church-of-rock-and-roll-type songs and the stripped-down ballads-and the thing they have in common is they’re all done with total conviction and soul,” says Johnson of Testify. “I think you can really feel that shining through on the album, and to put all those songs out into the world and know that I’ll have them with me until the day I die is such an amazing feeling.”

  • Marko

    LMAO. The press release is beyond hilarious. Who wrote this thing?
    If The Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un ever records an album North Korean press will definitely copy-paste the same review.

  • Amy Beth

    “Three frenetic weeks” would make a great name for Caleb’s backing band.

    Ladies and gentleman, put your hands together for Caleb Johnson and the 3 Frenetic Weeks!

  • girlygirl

    Public relations was one of my majors in college but I could never be a music publicist because I’d burst into hysterical laughter every time I had to write a press release full of stuff like this, lol

    You know at least one media site will print this verbatim sometime between now and Tuesday, though :p

  • Incipit

    You know at least one media site will print this verbatim sometime between now and Tuesday,

    Oh, more than one. It’s just full of quotable lines and hyperbolic media bites – ready made for writing ‘original’ reviews. Heh.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    It’s an entire buffet of word salad! Herds of thesauri were slaughtered to make this press release! Prose so purple that it requires vision in the ultraviolet range to fully appreciate it!

    Written and recorded in just three frenetic weeks, Testify harnesses the feverish energy of the album-making process

    Part of me wants to mock this sentence, and part of me wants to pet it and give it cookies.

    There would be more cookies if I thought Benson’s production style actually supported the point. But damn. The chutzpah that went into developing this press release is epic.

  • chris

    Its actually a pretty good cd. Sure some songs are better than others. Another Life should have been the single.

  • mineradvantage

    Whoever wrote that press release deserves a raise.

  • Marko

    Or the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

  • Amy Beth

    I’m imagining a scenario where the Interscope summer interns had a running bet as to how many cliches they could pack into a single PR release and still get it approved. Several late night drinks probably helped too!

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    The transcendent brilliance of this press release is that essentially every word that isn’t an article, a preposition, “is,” “he/his,” or “Johnson” is a cliche.

    Most press releases are OTT. THIS press release goes all the way to kitsch, if not camp.

  • Kimmy Moores

    heading into the studio soon after claiming his Idol victory and working nonstop to bring Testify’s boundary-blurring but wholly unified sound to life

    I had to stop for air. I nearly laughed a lung out.

  • Kimmy Moores

    Finished it….
    Wooooooooooooooooooow

  • Marko

    I’m 75% sure that Caleb wrote this text!

  • Incipit

    No, no – I believe this was done by a pro in the field, with access to more imaginative adjectives and modifiers than Caleb has ever seen together in one place. Recall the brevity of his contributions to the music descriptions in that ‘track x track’ for Testify – Caleb didn’t write this, IMO.

  • vtu

    Wow. I came to the comments first, and I thought y’all were exaggerating about the press release. Guess not. Got about two sentences in before letting out an undignified guffaw. (If you’re wondering, it was “bombastic but undeniably soulful” that got me.) :D

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    it was “bombastic but undeniably soulful” that got me

    And yet, I kinda want that phrase on a coffee mug.

  • mineradvantage

    No way in hell he knows that many words

  • vtu

    Or a T-shirt!

  • HermeticallySealed

    “Prose so purple that it requires vision in the ultraviolet range to fully appreciate it!”

    I am stealing this sentence.

  • Incipit

    “…it was “bombastic but undeniably soulful” that got me..”

    Hah! This is rich. It may be amusing to rewrite this press release in less vague terms, and give it a recognizable slant – say Willie Shakespeare, for instance – that would come out –
    “It was Falstaff but undeniably Ophelia…” which makes no more sense than the original phrase, but does it more clearly.

    SMH.

  • justmefornow

    That press release was a thing a beauty.
    The only adjective it seems that was left out was “schlubby.”

  • Pat H

    Agree on Another Life. IMO, very radio friendly & the best song on the album!

  • Kirsten

    LMAO. That was AWESOME. Best thing about the entire album.

    Did that guy get paid by the adjective? Stunning job of stringing them together. Barely a noun gets by without having at least two.

    The entire thing was so breathless. And bombastic.

    We’d get a really great flow going and then they’d make the mistake of quoting Caleb who just didn’t keep the vibe going. We go from “boundary-blurring but wholly unified” to “I wanted to keep that up and get writing and bang out as many songs as I could”. Caleb! Get with the program. Let me help you boy. Instead of “wanted” try “frenetically driven”. Instead of “bang out” try “craft with hallmark precision and zealous passion while ensuring expeditious delivery”. Now get out that Thesaurus and replace every verb and noun (don’t forget that every noun deserves an adjective!).

  • halo9125

    I have to say- that was my favorite part too.

  • halo9125

    “…Johnson tempers his more unbridled influences with a sense of songcraft
    inspired by seminal melodists like Bernie Taupin and Paul McCartney.”

    I’ll bet any amount of money that Johnson doesn’t have a freaking clue who Bernie Taupin is.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    Johnson tempers his more unbridled influences

    Please, please, please let it be true that now Johnson’s fellow touring Idols go up to him and ask: “Been tempering your more unbridled impulses much lately?”

    Since Bernie Taupin is a lyricist rather than a melody-writer, I’m not sure the author of the press release knew, either.

  • justmefornow

    No idea if his single will even be pushed to radio, but here’s Pulse Music’s discussion/opinion of the single and the album in general…

    http://pulsemusic.proboards.com/thread/141855/caleb-johnson

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Amid all of the OTT bombastic language, I notice that there are no quotes from any identified label executive praising Caleb (who I’m sure was NOT the person who wrote this PR). lol

  • Larc

    There’s a free app called Marquee Screensaver that will bring back that little gem.

  • breakdown

    Who writes this crap? “Passion and unrest” haha.

  • WestiesRule

    I loved everyone’s comments about this press release. Some of the best reading on this blog in a while. That thing was stchick personified. I can’t wait to see how many of these albums he sells.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    It’s so OTT that it’s virtually a parody.

  • seldomused

    Wow, just wow.

    Several of those sentences, could, with a little tweaking, make legitimate entries into the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. :-)

    And talk about run-on sentences, this is one of my favorites:
    …”Throughout Testify, Johnson-a lifelong music obsessive equally inspired by the Southern soul of Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, the classic rock of Led Zeppelin and Queen, and the heavy metal of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest-flaunts his versatility by tearing through brutal and blistering barnburners, blues-soaked rock numbers, and heart-on-sleeve ballads with an unstoppable intensity”…
    .
    I rolled my eyes most at this :
    …”his chameleon-esque ability to take on so many subgenres of rock & roll with ferocity and ease”

  • Incipit

    “several…legitimate entries into the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. :-)”

    Ahh, so true. – It’s fiction. Even though the writers have resisted the inconsequential segue in their single minded purpose, it has the requisite run-on sentences, the serial comparisons, metaphors and similes, the juxtapositioning of opposites (my favorite) for the same modifier, the relentlessly cascading adjectives; now, If only they had found some way to work in “It was a dark and stormy night…”

    And the prize? There is a synchronicity there as well: “…in keeping with the gravitas, high seriousness, and general bignitude of the contest, the grand prize winner will receive … a pittance.”~bulwer-lytton.com

    *Snark*

  • TLKC

    This. I would bet money that the person who wrote this is a hired hack who churns cd notes out as required and has a lot of good chuckles while writing them.

  • TLKC

    This line gives the it away completely – the writer is having a ball with this.

  • Kimmy Moores

    “boundary-blurring”
    Oh my God the chutzpah LOL

  • Sassycatz

    It sounds like somebody got a hold of one of those Mad Libs booklets you use at parties.

  • tripp_ncwy

    Caleb Johnson “Testify” additional Album Credits + review

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/testify-caleb-johnson/27843536?ean=602537939329

  • sdmama

    This may be a good time to play Al Yankovic’s “Mission Statement”.
    http://youtu.be/GyV_UG60dD4

  • Mason

    Caleb can testify that he has the most outrageous, monstrous, scandalous, atrocious, horrendous, nefarious, audacious, ostentatious PR for debut album of any Idol winner to-date!

  • Incipit

    Thanks, tripp_ncwy. The credits are serious stuff, not the fluff of the PR release. They are jumbled together in that listing – but if you break them out, it presents the question – how many musicians would the Label have to hire for Caleb’s Touring Band, to make the set list have any resemblance to the tracks on the album? And how many of the musicians need to be back-ground singers – because the credits answer my question about those too – It is not Caleb overdubbing the harmonies to his own vox –

    Performance Credits:
    Caleb Johnson Primary Artist, Vocals

    Howard Benson – Keyboards, Voices, Hammond B3

    Josh Freese – Guitar, Drums
    Phil X. – Guitar
    Calvin Dupree – Choir, Chorus
    Randy Cooke – Drums
    Cochemea Gastelum – Baritone Saxophone
    Chris Chaney – Bass
    Neal Sugarman – Tenor Saxophone –
    Jon Button – Bass
    Justin Hawkins – Background Vocals
    Joe Rickard – Drums
    The Dap Kings Horns – Horn
    Dave Guy – Trumpet
    Lenny Skolnik – Keyboards, Background Vocals
    Jonny Litten – Keyboards, Background Vocals
    Auvrell Christophe – Choir, Chorus
    Monet Bagneris – Choir, Chorus
    Tommy Leonard – Choir, Chorus

    He’s got three different keyboard players and a Hammond organ, only two guitar players, and two bass, a horn section, trumpet, baritone sax and tenor sax, three different drummers and four choir/chorus singers with three background people doing vox on these tracks. No doubt, good studio musicians, all – I recognize at least three of the names, and they are very good people. DC even brought in Phil X (electric guitar) for the recording of some TLM tracks.

    I know this will have to tighten up a lot for the road – but how big is the Touring band, really – and how do they even shrink this down to one acoustic lead guitarist for appearances? Maybe two, if caleb doesn’t play acoustic rhythm guitar?

  • wordnerdarchie

    Backing tracks.

  • Incipit

    That’s kinda what I thought – but I’m more a fan of some rearranging to equate the sound, and sparse use of performing to a track, as needed.

  • tripp_ncwy

    What type of tour will Interscope actually finance, full band vs. small acoustic accompaniment of two or three or as wordnerdachie points out backing tracks. He may get a full band if he has some tv appearances but his sales may not be strong enough to finance a full band.

  • Incipit

    Good point – How big of a trailer – will they have a moveable light show, even a little one – and their own sound guy – or will they have to use whatever the venue has, like a DIY Tour?

    Waiting to see.

  • tripp_ncwy

    Caleb Johnson’s album is in the Target week ad circular this week “New The Week in stores tuesday.

  • esther macha

    It is also in Best Buy circular.

  • Marko

    Problem solved! They will hire Alex Preston.

  • justmefornow

    It may depend on whether they get a sponsor for his tour. Or if he opens for another better known band.

    All this depends, of course, on if he really does actually tour. Candice probably will lose her lowest winner sales title soon, and she never actually toured at all.

  • justmefornow

    lol. Alex should thank God that Caleb can’t even handle an acoustic appearance by himself, the guy is still making some extra cash. (I hope they are actually paying him extra).

  • Incipit

    Heh. I think perhaps they already have!

  • girlygirl

    And the album is charting higher om iTunes, amazon, etc than it had been. Not high enough to equal a bunch of sales, but still the promo he’s getting seems to have stirred at least some interest.

  • Corrine43180

    Most of the idols have had multiple instrumentalists, horn sections, background vocals on their debut album, it never stopped any of them. Kris had horn section, violin, viola, cello. Etc on his . Acoustic performances were also still possible either solo or with one accompanying player. Why would Caleb be any different?

  • Incipit

    “Why would Caleb be any different?”

    Wait. Did someone suggest he would? My curiosity is in regard to how many people will be needed to replicate the studio sound as a Live experience – the subtext there is not that Caleb is different, – it is ‘how big of a group will the label support?’

    Unless the members are signed as the band Daughtry was, Caleb pays the tour band – but the Label is fronting him the money…so it’s a logical question. IMO.

  • tripp_ncwy

    AARP may choose to extend their sponsorship from the AI tour to Caleb’s solo effort.

  • Corrine43180

    Didn’t you ask in regards to making the songs resemble the songs on the album? That’s what my answer had to do with. Touring has never completely recreated the album sound, those that had horn sections, string sections, etc on debut album songs didn’t have those musicians on tour and I doubt Caleb will be any different than the others.

  • http://www.holyhomo.com/ Rand

    **Waits anxiously for the number of records sold**

  • Goodvibes27

    Neither does the writer. Bernie Taupin is a lyricist, not a “melodist”

  • windmills

    Hey, the Justin Hawkins-penned As Long As You Love Me is a song that Kelly cut or was set to cut several years ago. I can hear it coming from her.

    The album isn’t terrible but the ballads/midtempos really drag it down, especially because the weak lyrics are exposed. The uptempos have their cliche moments too, but they have a good energy, some decent melodies, and Caleb sounds good, as you’d expect. There’s the usual Idol debut problem of the album not really having an identity beyond the genre it’s set in, so you get a mishmash of different kinds of rock without a really individual feel. But considering it was made in 3 weeks, there’s enough on the album that should at least translate well into Caleb’s live performances (Sailing Away, Save Me, Devil’s Daughter, As Long As You Love Me). The lead single is a mistake but that’s no surprise.

    The Random Adjective & Legendary Name Generator deserves at least 75% credit for the album PR.