Preview of New Eric Johnson Album "Up Close"
Posted by Michael Mueller on October 25, 2010 at 10:12 AM
What? Is it a blue moon already? Austin-based guitar hero Eric Johnson will release his new album, Up Close, on December 7. The album—his first record since 2005's Bloom—features 15 tunes and includes guest appearances from Sonny Landreth, Steve Miller, Jimmie Vaughan, and Jonny Lang, and GuitarInstructor was lucky enough to hear it this past weekend!
For his latest effort, Johnson says he turned to spontaneity for inspiration—an inspired move in itself, given his well-earned reputation as a perfectionist. The album opens with the first of three brief musical interludes, "Awaken," which is subtly Indian-sounding, with sitar-like drones chiming in the background. The uptempo instrumental "Fatdaddy" is a ZZ Top-influenced rocker that fits squarely into the EJ repertoire.
Album highlights include:
- the slow blues track "Texas," featuring Steve Miller on vocals and with fellow guest Jimmie Vaughan's stellar, raw blues lines playing foil to Johnson's more polished approach.
- the autobiographical "Austin"—in which Johnson tells the story of growing up in the Texas capital and watching his city change over the years—features Jonny Lang on vocals and, a bit oddly, a Jason Becker-style neoclassical arpeggio sequence that serves as an interlude to the guitar solo.
- "On the Way" is a fun, upbeat Chet Atkins-style country instrumental, the roots of which can be heard on Johnson's "Live in Anaheim" DVD.
- the moderate ballad "Arithmetic," which actually opens with a rapid-fire, cascading descent that I think I'll be spending some time learning in the near future.
- the instrumental "Vortexan," with its Queens of the Stone Age-style main riff is vintage EJ.
Finally, Sonny Landreth, who with his own violin-like tone and similar phrasing approach has been called the Eric Johnson of slide guitar, lends his finely tuned sense for all the right notes and his incredible grasp of dynamics to the closing piano ballad "Your Book."
Johnson recently wrapped up the first leg of the acoustic Guitar Masters tour, also featuring Andy McKee and Peppino D'Agostino. He next heads out for Experience Hendrix dates, beginning Tuesday, October 26 in Pittsburgh, PA, and wrapping up on Saturday, November 20, in Indianapolis, IN. He'll kick off the new year with a string of California dates for the Guitar Masters tour.
For all the latest news and tour info, visit EricJohnson.com.