Born and raised on the prairie of South Dakota, Johnny Delaware’s debut album takes you from wide-open spaces, through a maze of high rises, harsh deserts and sunburst desolate canyons. Delaware’s debut, “Secret Wave,” speaks to his well-traveled past across the American landscape, exploring the depths of his experiences through dreamy guitar licks and honest lyrics.
After starting out in the South Dakota music scene, Delaware followed his passion for music and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. This was the springboard for Delaware to start playing live shows and making major developments in his songwriting. Though the scene in Nashville was vibrant, it wasn’t for him. Looking for new inspiration, Delaware set off for Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Out in the desert, Delaware was quickly inspired by the striking and unfamiliar landscape as well as the city’s dynamic culture. It was here, in the dry and desolate city of Albuquerque, where he began focusing on the importance of his lyrics. After two tumultuous years, Delaware felt something ominous on the endless horizon and headed back to South Dakota. It only took one year, most of it spent living in a cold trailer house in the Black Hills, before he found himself once again dissatisfied and overtaken by wanderlust. Deciding to forget the desert, the tempestuous past two years, and the unbearably cold winters, Delaware traveled to Austin. Like his experience in Nashville, the music scene proved to be fruitless for him, but during that time Delaware met a friend who referred him to Charleston, South Carolina producer, Wolfgang Zimmerman. It was immediately clear upon connecting with Zimmerman that Delaware had found his place in Charleston and took the first steps to recording “Secret Wave.”
Layered within Delaware’s full and vibrant sound, there is the apparent influence of musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Beach Boys and M. Ward. He carries the essence of John Lennon and, perhaps on certain tracks, one will encounter a sound akin to The Walkmen. No matter how one digests “Secret Wave”, there is an undeniable positive and inspirational feeling underlining Delaware’s album. Lines like, “Blazed on your saddle/knuckles of white/I’ll hold on forever if I hold on tight” are a clear metaphor for the struggle for consistency and perfection, one that Delaware often faced while in the process of recording “Secret Wave”. Yet there is often a subtle and gentle message found in Delaware’s songs as well, such as “Saralinah”: “Well if you’re looking for an answer/it’s gonna be found on your own.”