Country troubadour John Louis wanders around this Twin Town of music, writing and singing heartworn country folk songs. 

John’s that guy on the bus who sits quietly, looking tired like the rest of us. The difference is he is sitting there composing a song about your life and those painful poignant moments you dust off on the way home between life’s chores. His songs show us our lives and the subtle but important things that become universally important hallmarks of our Midwestern journey. 

Like church basement rolls at the funeral. Like the small moments on road trips filled with meaning, loss and memory. The tragedies and triumphs that break us and keep us going one more day. 

John glimpses it all through a poet’s heart. When he stands bravely on a stage with a guitar and begins singing, we get to see it too. And it makes sense for a moment. 

The songs John writes keep winning awards from prestigious songwriting showcases. Including the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase, and the Great River Folk Fest songwriter contest. (That’s some hot sh-t folks!) 

I dare you to listen to his music and not feel like the first human who rode on the tilt-a-whirl. 

The thing is, this country folk music he makes has emerged from walking the path to wisdom. This is a path most American men run from. Because it’s a painful and sad road. But it is a sadness tinged with meaning and some joy at the thought that we get to experience any of it. 

His telling of the journey is thrilling, emotional and truth filled. 

John Louis songs will bind us all together in a concert that will have us laughing, weeping openly and connecting with one another as people on the same path to the destination.  He knows that in fact no one here facing this life-sentence of life for an indeterminate length of time had much choice and the few choices we did have were blown somehow. But god how sweetly we love it. His songs are the consolation prize for all of us losers as we get up and stare out the window and are gripped with a love of this precious life and a woe that resides at the edges of this brief journey through. 


“John Louis is a good man writing great music up in Minneapolis.” Jon Dee Graham 

“John Louis's songwriting is reminiscent of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.” Radio Heartland, Minnesota Public Radio 

“I love the songs that John Louis writes. LOVE!” Sarah Morris 

“Rootsy singer/songwriter John Louis [is] equal parts John Prine and Robert Earl Keen . . . .” Minneapolis StarTribune 

“. . . brings to mind John Prine, Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson and Lucinda Williams . . . . Louis is a storyteller by nature, and his album asks an ear of its listeners. Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota is both gentle and intense. It welcomes listeners in, and gives them something to think about. ” No Depression 

“John Louis . . . is a great singer/songwriter.  His “Shut Down” song is damn near perfect.” Brad Raley 

“. . . a particularly engaging album.” Americana UK (on 2024 release “For Everyone (Especially You)”)

"A terrific live album!" The Sundilla Radio Hour (commenting on 2018 release "Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota") 

“Love it!” Jonathan Byrd (on 2015 release “Drift”)

"Minneapolis folk picker/alt-twanger John Louis sings whimsically and movingly about city life and mid-life on his new album "For Everyone (Especially You)" Minneapolis StarTribune 

From Adventures in Americana 

Music Review: John Louis ‘For Everyone (Especially You)’

The Minnesota singer-songwriter’s lyrics take center stage on an exquisitely rendered album that brings catharsis and healing to themes of addiction and grief.


If you’re like me, you’re swimming in great new music this year. One of the first 2024 records to catch my ear was John Louis’s For Everyone (Especially You), which came out in January. This quietly radiant jewel of an album continues to impress me even more with every listen.

Louis, a masterful Minnesota singer-songwriter, gathered contributions from an impressive roster of local talent to craft this album, including ethereal backup vocals from Siri Undlin (aka Humbird) and Hannah Hebl (aka Hemma). Louis and other talented musicians bring the songs to life with a sweet tapestry of Americana sounds: fingerstyle acoustic guitar, gentle banjo, keening pedal steel and fiddle, and more. But the star of the show remains Louis’s exquisite lyrics delivered in his emotive, softly husky voice.

Although this isn’t a full-album story concept, two stories (to my mind, at least; your mileage may vary) emerge, along with some companion songs that feed the overall themes. The first story is a tale of addiction, relationship strife, and pain inflicted on the self and others; the other of being separated from loved ones by illness and death. Despite these sad themes, the empathy and humanity of Louis’s perspective brings catharsis and comfort, making it feel uplifting at times.

After the cryptic and dreamlike opening track “Ground”—which feels like shorthand notes given to someone who’ll understand the experiences hinted at (“Dixie Beer and Early Times / Heat and sweat and reading signs / Twenty-four miles ’cross the causeway / Saturday or someday”), the album launches into the first story arc, anchored by one of two songs that have been previously released as A/B singles and have rightfully been given a home on this album: “Gone Too Far.” 

The relationship that could be the subject of the next few songs is pretty much over from the opening lines of that single: “Pack up your beauty / Pack up your inspirations.” Sparse, vivid lyrics depict the wreckage left behind, both physical and emotional:

Holes in the drywall

Size of a fist, shape of a heart

Say it’s gone too far

In the next song, “Another Day”—the most uptempo, rocking song on the album, anchored by electric guitar and pedal steel—the narrator drinks to have an excuse not to leave the bar and fantasizes about patching things over:

Would you come if I called you

On the phone right now

And told you that I can’t be alone right now

We’ve got a lot to lose

But come to me

Keep me company

But the next song, “Shut Down,”—the other previously released single—suggests that booze took over instead. It opens with a grim scene that’s somehow even more jolting when delivered in Louis’s soft croon. The narrator wakes up at home after a blackout with his car missing and the dreadful notion that he left it in a ditch to be “inspected by a gung ho cop / Finding blood and hair on the grill.” This fear may end up unfounded, but it’s indicative of a life in tailspin as he attempts to drown his pain in alcohol. Hopes of reconciliation from the previous track are gone now: “I don’t want to wreck your day / If you see me you should go the other way.”

As a balm to this triptych of pain, the title track comes next, sad and wistful but comforting in its expansive love for anyone who is suffering. If you think you don’t need a song where every line ends with “I love you,” it’s because you haven’t yet heard “For Everyone Especially You,” which feels like a tearful but soothing hug from beginning to end.

After that bittersweet palate cleanser, the album enters the second story arc: one of gradual, devastating loss of a loved one, told across five (well, technically four) songs from multiple perspectives. This novella plays out mid-album, starting with “I Wish I Remembered You,” and opens from the point of view of someone suffering from dementia. He laments having forgotten what the people around him used to mean to him. But he can intuit something about what their relationship might’ve been like: 

But I know I like your face

And I can tell by the way your voice breaks

You feel something for me

Strong and deep

That must have come from someplace

Immediately after the slow, acoustic track comes another rendition of the same song, brighter and faster, with electric guitar and percussion. (Louis was inspired by how Dylan ended side one and opened side two of Planet Waves with different renditions of “Forever Young.”) He describes this alternate take as a “fever-dream” version.

The next track, “Wake Me Up,” continues from the same POV. It’s about wanting to have one more special moment with loved ones, even if it means being brought to consciousness (with “Whatever it takes—ice cubes or amphetamines”). We were honored to premiere this song here on Adventures in Americana, so you can read more about it here!

The next two songs are about the aftermath of loss. “After the Funeral” explores strangely mundane moments (“Silent, awkward, hugs / Meant to console”), tongue-in-cheek observations (“The priest drank all the wine”), and details that need to be carried out (“Boxing clothes bound for Goodwill / Sorting treasures from landfill”) after the death of a loved one. Perversely lighthearted throughout considering the subject matter, it ends on imagery that hints at profound grief without explicitly speaking of it:

I drank all the wine

Watching the sun sink in the ground 

The house is dark

Except for the lights I left on

Next we shift from the mundane to a hint of the supernatural with “The Wind,” in which the narrator feels as though they’re being visited by their dearly departed:

You were here just now

I could tell

From the way the wind moved

And the air felt

As time goes on and the mourning becomes less intense, they wonder whether what they really felt was just wishful thinking: “Sometimes the wind is just the wind / Sometimes a chill is just a chill.” But the song ends the way it opens, as if they’ve decided to believe it whether or not it’s true: “You were here just now / I could tell.”

The penultimate track, “Independence City Limits,” is also about the aftermath of death, though it seemingly tells a separate story from the quintet of songs that preceded it. After the narrator’s friend dies, their family slowly disintegrates; the father drinks himself to death, the mother goes “around the bend,” siblings are raised by someone else as a result. It’s a sweetly sung but wrenching portrait of innocent people dealing with “The life they got / Not the life that should have been.”

The album closes on “Sleep Well,” a slow waltz that’s sung like a lullaby. It’s a deceptively gentle delivery for a song that starts and ends with “No one will sleep well tonight.” It ties together aspects of the previous tracks with references to “saying goodbye” and drowning sorrows with “four fingers of whiskey,” and it contains jaw-droppingly amazing lyrics, describing said liquor as:

The fuel to feed

The internal combustion

Of freedom and lust and

Cognition of us and

The sweetness

Actually, on that note, this is one album where I strongly encourage you to read all the lyrics, helpfully provided on Louis’s website. I had to hold myself back from just quoting every song verbatim in this review! Even without hearing the music, the songs stand on their own as poetry.

It’s not even April, and there have already been several amazing albums released this year—and many others have been announced that are going to make 2024 a banner year for new Americana music. Although it’ll face some stiff competition, I feel utterly confident For Everyone (Especially You) would’ve secured a spot in my top 10 of 2024–except I actually got my hands on the CD at a show in late 2023, before its official release, and included it in my top 10 albums of 2023!


Carol Roth is the primary writer, social media manager, podcast producer and event-calendar updater for Adventures in Americana. By day she’s a marketing writer/brand strategist. In addition to playing guitar and songwriting, she writes self-proclaimed “trashy” novels under the pseudonym T.A. Berkeley.

Read the original article here.

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From Americana UK:

Review of “For Everyone (Especially You)”

January 31, 2024 Paul Kerr

For Everyone (Especially You) is “a ruminative ‘journey of decline, despair, resignation, and death – and the aftermath’ delivered in a gloriously wearied style with a hangdog expression. Laments such as ‘The Wind’ and ‘Shut Down capture perfectly hardscrabble moments with a tired sense of acceptance while Louis takes a page from Dylan’s ‘Planet Waves’ and offers two versions of a song, in this case, ‘I Wish I Remembered You’. The first is quiet and reflective, the second, according to Louis, “sort of like a fever-dream of the main character from the first version,” adds a creamy pedal steel to the mix along with angelic female backing vocals. Closing with a solo rendition of ‘Sleep Well’, Louis wraps up a particularly engaging album.”

From Adventures in Americana: 

Single Premier of “Wake Me Up”

December 7, 2023 Carol Roth

John Louis’s voice is gentle, honest, almost unassuming, but there’s something about it that stops you in your tracks. Then you hear a line or two of his lyrics, and that’s enough to get you fully hooked. Louis has the kind of mastery of words that’s simple and natural yet precisely attuned to the workings of the human heart, and a way of expressing it that’s humble and earthbound yet fulfills our instinctive desire to tap into the divine and mystical.

There is almost no other artist I’d trust more to tackle the topic of his new single and turn it into a song that’s as pleasurable as it is heartbreaking. “Wake Me Up” comes out tomorrow, Friday December 8, but we’re honored to share its exclusive premiere here today!

The song’s stripped-down arrangement sets an unadorned stage for Louis’s voice and arresting lyrics. “Wake me up from this sad sad scene,” he begins; “Whatever it takes—ice cubes or amphetamines.”

Told from the perspective of someone preparing to leave (which could be interpreted a few different ways), “Wake Me Up” is about trying to capture final moments together, saying something—anything—while you still have the chance (“Something from your heart or just a good joke”). As hungry as parting ways makes us for those conversations, the song acknowledges that there are no words that can fully sum up a life or relationship or feeling in light of the magnitude of impending loss: “Voices break like light through a crack in the drapes / Is there really anything left to say?”

Louis shared the story behind “Wake Me Up”: “My dad died from an aggressive cancer when I was in my late 20s. I remember one particularly hard day at the hospital when we were asked to make a decision about whether or not to wake him from a very deep sleep so some of us could potentially have a final conversation with him, or to just let him sleep peacefully.”

Interestingly, he doesn’t remember which path they chose; if they did wake him up, the words exchanged weren’t as memorable as the internal debate that preceded them. “But as I’ve thought of it in recent years, it occurred to me that if I was ever the one dying, I’d want my kids and loved ones to bring me back for whatever last moment they wanted to have,” Louis says.

With just a gently strummed acoustic guitar, bittersweet violin and subtle bass, the instrumentation cradles the quietly devastating lyrics, imbuing them with beauty and a certain lightness despite their emotional weight. “Dex Wolfe did an amazing job in the production and engineering on this,” Louis says, “and the contributions of Clifton Nesseth’s violin and Robbie Weisshaar on bass are stunning.”

“Wake Me Up” will be on Louis’s new album, For Everyone (Especially You), which he plans to officially drop on January 22, 2024 (with a likely early release on Bandcamp).

(See the full story with pictures at

From Americana UK

Video Premiere: John Louis “Gone Too Far” 

May 25, 2021 Andrew Frolish 

The latest single from John Louis has the feel of a song by John Prine or Kris Kristofferson, thanks to the beautifully constructed lyrics and his warmly characterful vocals.  A real highlight of ‘Gone Too Far’ is the way the voices of Louis and backing singer Siri Undlin move together and lean on one another; they each complement the other perfectly and their combination adds another dimension to an already lovely melody.  Along with Undlin, Louis is backed by an outstanding group of players: Jeremy Boettcher’s bass and Shane Leonard’s drums give the song a gentle rhythm while Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter) provides piano and organ.  Ben Lester (S. Carey, Bon Iver) delivers impressively dreamy pedal steel and mellotron.  The musicians’ collective impact is to create a song that bears repeated plays and soon feels like a familiar favourite. 

Louis shared the story behind the song and video with AUK: “The video for ‘Gone Too Far’ was created by talented artists Erik Elstran and Sarah Elstran. Both are gifted, kind, creative souls who do incredible things with video and music.  Like many of my songs, ‘Gone Too Far’ came from a combination of observations, stories, and my own experiences. Part of the inspiration was thinking about the things you can’t take with you, and the things that are always with you. I had been playing this song out solo for a while before recording the single, and I love how the recording transformed the song. Producer Shane Leonard did an amazing job, and Siri Undlin’s backing vocals add a new layer of meaning.” 

Louis draws us into the song with artfully chosen words and real poetry: “Pack up your beauty // Pack up your inspirations //  Secrets and mysteries // Affections and revelations // In a box by the back door // Close enough to grab on your way to the car // When it’s gone too far.”  There’s wistful heartache and weariness in Louis’ timeless country-folk and his talents have been recognised by the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase and the Kerrville New Folk competition, where he was a finalist in 2019. 

We’re delighted to premiere the video for ‘Gone Too Far’, an authentic song for those looking for human stories, real emotion and heart in musical form.

Press for Singles "Gone Too Far" and "Shut Down"


"This is a storyteller’s song, with raw harmonies and a tender expression.  John Louis is one of those songwriters who automatically plants your heart in your throat — the ultimate goal for fans of Americana music." - Americana Highways

"'Gone Too Far' was recorded with producer Shane Leonard, and features and delivers a Neil Young “Harvest” like aura that is heartfelt, honest, open and real. It drips with Americana and will linger with you for a long time after your first listen." - Disciples of Sound

"John Louis delivers insightfully incisive songwriting chops via 'Shut Down'. . . Americana is served at its most emotive, and Louis adheres exquisitely." Glide Magazine   

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