Johnny Spanish

Produced by Oliver Stoned, Johnny Spanish’s latest is his strongest. Moving back to Louisville after an extended NYC stay has energized the emcee. Home shows a more restrained songwriter, bringing a balanced spectrum of topics, and he’s toned down the sing-song elements of prior work that turned off purists. This is in-training mode, lean and eager. Opening track “The Exhalted” (sic) is a mid-tempo head-nodder with a second verse for the ages, an extended Greek metaphor that works on multiple levels. Oliver Stoned is a talent despite that name, providing tailor-made soundscapes for Spanish that complement Johnny’s strengths. Features are happily kept to a minimum, with T-Razor on “Talk to Em” and BST Gang on “Worth It,” and they don’t disrupt Spanish’s laser focus. If he keeps this quality up, he won’t be Home for long.