Josiah Johnson & Planes On Paper – Mercury Lounge, NYC

Planes On Paper produce an unmatched, hypnotizing chemistry that is fuelled by Navid Eliot’s soulful guitar rhythms and Jen Borst’s captivating harmonic blend. The Seattle, WA indie folk duo is currently on tour with Josiah Johnson of The Head And The Heart, performing heartfelt folk sing-alongs as well as hauntingly profound, intimate and honest gentle tunes.

The band opened with All That’s Flesh Is Glass – a perfect opening song to set the mood at the chill Mercury Lounge vibes in the lower east side of Manhattan, NY. This song was followed by Brutus, another signature Planes sounding song with beautiful harmony and structure. As their fingerpicking and Weepies-esque style continued, the stunning set raged on with The Ruins, an especially vivid and prolific song with beautiful folk colors and sharp acoustic vibrations. The next song in the set was Two Rivers which highlighted more beautiful vocals and tight musicianship for both Navid and Jen.

Wolves kept the mellow and acoustic bright vibes glowing as their set began to wind down. Next the band performed their song Television that the band describes on their Facebook page as “a song about the broken marriage that is American politics.” In the same post they admit to their Peter, Paul and Mary influence/style. It is evident in the rich longing of Planes On Paper’s lyrics and melodies that there is an inimitable chemistry between Navid and Jen that simply just works. Both of their beautiful souls combined is a true recipe for singer/songwriter magic.

The second to last song in their set was a tune called Zero Winter/Zero Summer. The song’s power stems from its deep lyrics and powerfully poignant guitar work. The very last song in the set was Day Alone, which served as the perfect closing song, leaving listeners wondering more about the Seattle folk duo Planes On Paper.

Josiah Johnson’s set proved that he’s been doing a lot better since the announcement of his addiction battle which sidelined him for the latest Head And The Heart tour. Hearing his new songs in raw, unfinished form was a special treat and I couldn’t help but hear in my head other band member’s harmonies and instrument parts collaborating with Josiah’s solo song. In the middle of his set he performed a solo version of The Head And The Heart song Honey Come Home and Jen from Planes On Paper stepped back on stage for harmonies. Later on in his set, Navid joined on stage and provided some lead guitar work for Josiah’s rhythm and basic song structure. If you had the privilege of seeing these three artists perform their hearts out within the past few weeks than you definitely saw one of the most honest and powerful singer/songwriter tours this fall.

Scott J. Herman