"Pop gems as catchy and radio-ready as they are earnest and introspective–a balance not everyone can get away with"
The Long Way
We cannot help where we start the journey of our life’s grand purpose. For some, that’s a road we walk from birth to oblivion that never deviates down life’s many differing pathways. For John-Allison Weiss, that journey is taking it’s time navigating an endless array of crossroads, the result of a handful of years that have held many changes in Weiss’s life. The construct of change, like time itself, is inescapable. It’s how we navigate the change that defines us, it’s what Weiss is pondering with their first album in 7 years, The Long Way.
Over 11 songs, Weiss embraces the spirit of rebirth born of change, the opportunity to sit perfectly still with oneself and enquire to the deepest needs of your spirit. We are so rarely afforded the opportunity of introspection and rarer still equipped to process what information we find, but on The Long Way Weiss deftly manages to channel deep change into exultant arrival.
Weiss has long been a master of pop hooks that weave in and out of meditative lyrics. From the opening strums of “Dust Storm” Weiss builds to the edge of a crescendo and lets us hang there, letting us know we might at any second plummet over but instilling within us a deep trust that when we do, the landing will be worth the fall. “Different Now” is a tender goodbye to a love that has lost its heart, a churning guitar dancing with a driving synth that feels at times like the innumerable headlights of the road out of town are the only thing left in this world.
Steeping themselves in the warm embrace of the hits that once dominated the top 40 radio of their adolescence, Weiss returns to that same musical landscape furnished with an inspirational abundance of accumulated pop rock wisdom to breath new air into an atmosphere some never get to find their way back to. The Long Way is a wealth of storytelling from someone with a new story to tell, “This is my first record after transitioning, after leaving a marriage, after deciding I didn't want to live a conventional life anymore,” says Weiss.
These are songs about losing one’s way, finding it again and the realization that finding the way was never the point of the journey. “Tell Me to Go”, co-written with Lelia Broussard, feels like pure Tom Petty filtered through a prism of Phoebe Bridgers. Guitars are crisp and bright, reverberating throughout songs that will just as easily shatter your heart as it will cause your feet to move like a spirit possessed. “Feels Like Hell”, co-written with Jenny Owen Youngs, a call to action by way of a persistent rhythm leading to a chorus that explodes with reverent energy while Weiss bellows “inside out I’m not myself, call this love it feels like hell”.
The Long Way is a path we find ourselves on that we can only trust where it leads, what matters most if the feeling in the recesses of our hearts while our feet keep the beat moving ever forward. It’s a celebration of the triumph of rebirth, new beginnings, and the thrill of the unknown. We do not always need to know where we might land, trust in John-Allison Weiss that this is all worth the deviation.