Johnnyswim – Diamonds – New folk duo may be the best in years

A few months ago, Johnnyswim, the moniker of Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano, released their EP entitled Heartbeats and immediately captured everyone’s attention. With perfect harmonies, impressive songwriting and an energetic and unique sound, they garnered praise from nearly everyone who heard their music. During our interview with the couple, they talked about the difficulty and fortune they had to write and perform within their marriage and the benefits are at work beautifully on Diamonds, the first full length album from Johnnyswim.

The album has two sides, one upbeat, positive side and one more thoughtful, more introspective and a little more painful. Both are beautiful and both showcase what this duo is capable of. The album kicks off with the title track which begins with beautiful and fast paced acoustic guitar strumming and sees the duo nearly yelling “We are diamonds, rising up out of the dust!” It’s a perfect way to set the tone for the rest of the album. To fulfill the obvious need (no sarcasm here) for beautiful love songs, this duo performs nearly perfectly “Take the World” and “Paris in June”. These are both song ideally suited to a couple of incredible vocalists and couldn’t possibly be done better by anyone else. They are literally written by and for each other and the meaning of the song and the beauty are beyond the sonically impressive melody.

The more introspective and painful side of the album (but no less impressive) comes mainly from a couple songs, namely “Pay Dearly” and “Over”. The former is a bluesy song that Abner absolutely kills sounding more like John Legend than you may think possible. He has one the clearest and most powerful voices I’ve heard in long time and there is confidence absolutely oozing from his words and sound. When he croons, “I want you to pay dearly for what you stole from me”, it’s hard to not feel the anger and resentment in your core. “Over” is a more quiet, piano driven song, but one that is no less emotional. With Amanda taking the lead on this one, it takes a more gentle tone, but no less scathing. It’s a song about unrequited love, but it’s more than that. It’s a song about the impression of love and the feeling of having that ripped away. It’s hard to listen to, but the beauty of the music bleeds through and it’s a perfect way to end an album.

Perhaps the most impressive song on the album is “Home”, an acoustic song that tells a story that feels a little like a mini autobiography. It’s an upbeat, hand clapping song and shows Abner’s vocals more impressively than any other. It’s a perfect summer song, one that tells you that “you need you some home.” Look for more from this song over the summer.

Diamonds is the best album of 2014 so far. It’s a genuine masterpiece of music from two immensely talented musicians and it’s the logical next step from their stunning EP. Pick up the album, roll the windows down, and bask in the beauty of two people in love with each other, with their music and with their fans. You’ll fall in love too.

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