Currently a resident of Austin Texas John Neilson was recognised initially as a songwriter when in LA. Writing with LA Guns and Sophie B. Hawkins among others he eventually teamed up with producer Jim Wirt and Tomorrow Comes The Spring is their second joint effort. The first thing to say here is that this is not an album that sounds as if it were birthed in Austin. There’s no grit and little swing evident, instead there’s a shimmering pop sensibility that ranges from upfront summer tinged power pop to ethereal swoons with Neilson’s light voice swathed in harmonies.
Neilson tops and tails the album with two fine shots of chiming power pop. Fall belts out of the starting gate and never lets up with a great chorus and a fine bridge leading to a smashing guitar solo before crunching back into the song, listen loud. Walk Away which closes the disc is a chunkier affair but the guitars continue to churn and burn as Neilson offers up another fine and melodic chorus which is just on the right side of sentimentality. In between Neilson walks a line that straddles folky singer/songwriter tales and romantic ballads, the latter again veering dangerously close to showbiz sentiment. Starlight Eyes for example creeps into view with an almost whispered declaration of love before sailing into Christopher Cross territory but Neilson rescues the song halfway through with a key change and an inventive arrangement that takes him closer to Brian Wilson. The arrangements again are the saving points of Dreams At Night and Columbian Cocaine, another two songs where Neilson bares his heart. He’s on surer ground with the tarnished tales featured in Lights Of Los Angeles although the soaring chorus here jars with his finely observed words. Coming Home is a sturdier effort with Neilson hitting the right emotional buttons as he lays down a downbeat Christmas song (wrong season John!) as a weary drunk contemplating a seasonal homecoming without his girl. Take A Shot is a portmanteau song that starts off with rippling country tinged guitar and bucolic lyrics before a swift shift into a brief appendix in a manner that recalls McCartney back in the days.
We struggled with Tomorrow Comes The Spring which apart from the two rockers is not an immediate listen. However it’s proof that an album can grow on one and the fine arrangements to be found here do repay repeated listenings. However it’s tempting to ask if Neilson could provide a whole album of those souped up power chords next time.