Track listing: When You Walk Out, Your Wings, Second Chance, Hole
As it follows so closely on the heels of their full length release 30, it's no surprise that Scam Artist features songs that sound as if they could have been recorded during the same sessions. Johnny Hi-Fi continues to show tremendous ability in both songwriting and performing.
The title Scam Artist seems quite apropos, as these songs are at first almost deceptively simple. "Hole," for example is a sunny, catchy tune but the lyrics are actually darker than the music would lead you to expect and the detail of the delivery, including the way Johnny Hi-Fi enunciates certain words, suggests obscured layers of meaning. One is left to wonder whether this was done on purpose or is more of a happy accident—as on the hidden track, where the guitar melody sounds strangely similar to the theme from All in the Family. With lyrics that seem to express a longing for a sort of domestic intimacy ("let me sleep next to your pillow, to see you get old") that isn't there ("but you're still on the phone/ talking to someone that I know/ may make you just as happy/ forget that I've been waiting") the echoes of the well known theme song that expresses a yearning for simpler, more family-oriented times could be coincidental or could be a well executed musical allusion.
Whether taken at face value or examined more deeply, Scam Artist is another solid offering from an artist that will certainly earn the respect of anyone that takes the time to explore their music.