PORTLAND (July 20, 2022) – Nels Johnson announces his upcoming album release, “Ios,” on October 14. On “Ios,” Johnson leans into the theme of surrender, coming to grips with who you are as a person and what makes you happy. The songs embrace the human experience and stories that shape and change us along the way. 

A visit to the Grecian island, Ios, inspired the record’s theme. Johnson wrote three songs on the album, “Rest,” “Holy Men,” and part of “Surrender,” while on the island. He says, “It was a place of total relaxation, which freed me up to slow down, quiet all the loud voices and get in touch with what I was feeling. It’s hard to describe, but I experienced a sense of freedom and just comfort in my skin that I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced before.” Those themes are captured in the songs that led to the album being named after the island.

“The Light That Guides Me” delves into a father/son relationship asking, “If he passed away, how would I want to remember our time together?” “American Dream” honors immigrants’ courage, bravery, and sacrifice. “Wake Me Up” takes on Henry David Thoreau’s concept of living a life of quiet desperation. Johnson says, “One of my biggest fears is that someday I’ll wake up, be 80 years old and wonder what the hell I did with my life, and be bitterly disappointed that at that point, there’s not much you can do to change course.” “Surrender” challenges the idea of control, instead surrendering to the unknown. “Holy Men” delves into ideas within Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Buried Giants,” wrestling with what it means when people, places, and memories fade away. 

Ios Track Listing

  1. Sixteen Years
  2. The Light That Guides Me
  3. Her Memories
  4. American Dream
  5. Rest
  6. Wake Me Up
  7. Surrender
  8. Old Virginia
  9. Another Peace of Mind
  10. Holy Men

About Nels Johnson

Nels Johnson thought he wanted a career where he’d rise the corporate ladder, so he decided to go to law school, where the experience beat all the creativity out of him. He didn’t pick up a guitar, pen, or paper for over a decade. Finally, in 2016 Johnson picked the guitar up again after realizing that the white-collar ladder was no longer something that provided meaning or something he wanted to be attached to anymore. He spent the next few years rediscovering the joy of playing and writing music and reorienting his life around the gift of being able to be creative again. Letting go or no longer resisting creativity fundamentally changed his life and has led him to a much healthier, fulfilling, and joyful place in life.