Local Review: Will Johnson – Memento Vivere
Local Music Reviews
Will Johnson = Bon Iver + Iron & Wine
If you could capture the feelings of a rainy day and put them into music, it would be Will Johnson’s sixth album Memento Vivere—a Latin phrase meaning “remember to live.” It’s a quiet and comforting record, an intertwined mix of indie rock and folk.
Memento Vivere is filled with slow tracks that are about the best and worst of life. On “Another Year,” Johnson sings about missing a friend who’s gone. Whether that’s from this earth or Johnson’s life isn’t entirely clear, but whichever meaning one assumes doesn’t take away from the music’s melancholy impression. The two tracks that captured my attention the most were “Another Year” and “Live with It,” featuring Sarah Molly. “Another Year,” is heartbreaking, evoking images of a world without someone you loved, someone who helped you through hard times. “It’s already been another year / and I miss you being around.” It has this passive aggressive guitar and a heavy buildup during the chorus, as if it’s mimicking the outburst of intense emotions from the speaker. It ends with a weighty, staticky instrumental—no more room for lyrics, just raw emotion reflected through sound rather than words.
“Live with It” is another standout track and happens to be the only one with a feature—singer-songwriter Sarah Molly. Soft guitar and drums play in the background while the duo sings a tender song about the end of a relationship where, despite the mutual breakup, both people regret their actions toward the other and wish they could go back in time. “Doesn’t feel like it used to, somewhere I lost our way,” the track opens with Johnson singing. Halfway in, Molly comes in alone, “Wish that I could change, but there’s nothing that I can do. / Wind turns the pages and I turn my back on you.” It’s hard to accept that you have hurt someone, especially someone you loved. This song acknowledges the hardship that comes after the relationship has ended. How do you go on after you hurt the one you love and can’t fix it? As the song proclaims, you have to live with it and process your emotions by yourself.
This record makes me want to write letters to all my past friends, to express how much I miss them, how much I love them and apologize for any past wrongdoings of mine. Memento Vivere makes me feel introspective on myself and my life. It also makes me feel as if I need to listen to it a couple of times completely through with a cup of warm, Earl Grey tea to let the music sink in and to feel it deeply. I love Memento Vivere, it is one of my favorite records of 2022. –Cherri Cheetah