Steve Johnson

Songs From the Seventh House

In astrology, the seventh house signifies partnerships, from marriage to enemies to lawsuits. Did local songwriter Steve Johnson fashion a concept album based on astrology? No, he titled it after his circa-1865 domicile, which he claims is Sacramento’s seventh-oldest house. Nevertheless, any songwriter worth his or her sense of self-reflection is going to be preoccupied with the intricacies of human interaction, as Johnson’s lyrics seem to be. His 10 songs, most of which clock in at around the four-minute mark, have an early Elton John vibe, perhaps because they’re built around piano. His vocals occasionally get lost in the arrangements—a bizjazz sax part by former Hot Lick John Girton hijacks “All on Me,” for instance. Some words of advice might be: When in doubt, simplify. Anyone looking for a local analogue to Bruce Hornsby might want to check out this mainstream but promising artist.