The hard-won optimism of Jillette Johnson’s third studio album It’s a Beautiful Day and I Love You couldn’t have come without tremendous upheaval. “It would have been easy to lean into the melancholy,” she says. “It was an act of rebellion to not indulge in the pain, to look beyond it and not wallow.” It’s a Beautiful Day and I Love You carries harmonic and emotional heft in the vein of Patty Griffin’s Flaming Red or Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark. There’s an open-heartedness in the Nashville-based Johnson’s songs, the kind of deeply experienced inner peace that results from a journey through vulnerability, pain, and struggle to gratitude, forgiveness, and, ultimately, acceptance.
Johnson’s a rare gem in Nashville, having written the entirety of It’s a Beautiful Day and I Love You alone, running contrary to the common Music City practice of co-writing. She did, however, find herself drawn to the city’s creative adage of “three chords and the truth” — though in Johnson’s case, it’s more like a dozen chords, especially on the harmonically elegant title track.
Johnson started writing songs at age 8; by her teens, she was playing three-hour sets of original music at a restaurant near her suburban New York home. Soon, she was generating enough outside interest that she attended her public high school only one day a year while she developed and recorded her music. That dedication landed Johnson a record deal that resulted in two albums, 2013’s Water in a Whale and 2017’s All I Ever See in You Is Me, the latter of which was produced by fellow Nashvillian Dave Cobb. She began touring 200+ days each year, earning slots at major music festivals, TV appearances and press accolades from outlets ranging from Billboard, Rolling Stone Country, and Paste to Marie Claire, Elle, and Cosmopolitan.
In the four years since relocating to Nashville, Johnson has made friends easily in the new city and also met and married her husband. The new relationships, both personal and professional, brought with them a renewed creative confidence. “This chapter of my life has been about quiet, stillness, gratitude, deepening relationships, and not running away,” she says. “And this record has a lot to do with learning how to be in one place and how to feel freedom in that.”
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