Thirty years after his breakthrough solo release, the Texas guitar legend ERIC JOHNSON will release his first all-acoustic album, called EJ. It showcases nine original compositions and four coversongs. [In stores October 7th.]
Johnson is regularly cited as one of the most respected guitarists on the planet. His 1990 platinum selling album “Ah Via Musicom” produced the single “Cliffs of Dover” and won him a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
“Ever since I was young...” says Johnson “I’ve played piano and acoustic guitar in my private life. This type of music has always been a part of me but I never showcased it on any bigger level, like a full acosutic record. With “EJ” I just decided to be more honest with myself […] and show my personal side.”
Johnson original compositions “Wonder” “Fatherly Downs” and “All Things You Are” are played on his prized Martin D-45 steel-string acoustic. Martins are ranked among the highest-quality guitars in the world. He also plays steel-string on “Once Upon a Time in Texas.” On “Serindad” he employs a Ramirez nylon-string.
Through his career, Eric Johnson has approached music as a healing force — to improve the consciousness of listeners, to evoke the joy and provoke inspiration. This new recording does all these things. We had a listen:
The album begins with “Mrs. Robinson” the Graduate song written by Paul Simon. The tangle of sharply vibrating strings are full of foppish diddle-doodle and reminded us of — maybe they’re inspired by — the ninny-fringed Braddock character.
The great flexibility and pure fire rate of finger-to-string on this track is spellbinding. The synchronization is sublime. And it is guaranteed that you will arive at the familiar “Joe DiMaggio” melody with a smile upon your face.
But it’s odd that EJ has chosen this song as the album opener — and, since this is such an introspective recording we might assume that the Simon & Garfunkel song or perhaps even some real events — have brought this Mrs. Robinson fan to reveal his true thoughts
“Wonder” is an indie-folk number of pinpoint beauty with sparkled plucking that sometimes culminates in trills. Plus a poetic, somewhat melancholic lyric and peculiarly enunciated vocals that have a Scottish Gaelic air. Perhaps this is a song gives thanks for each day. Or maybe it’s mourning our loss of the simplest things that gave us pleasure.
The lyrical content and gentle sweetness of “Fatherly Downs” reminds us of Cat Stevens circa 1971. But there are also echoes of Bryan MacLean’s compositions on Forever Changes. Be prepared for supernatural fireworks, disorienting rasgueados and complex finger-picking.
“All Things You Are” is an ode to joy. Because the strings are walked, plucking hard & soft in their progress, the architecture allows the voice to fly free like a flag in the blue sky.
“Wrapped in a Cloud” has sumptuous strings, ominous bass-notes and delicious piano chops. This song has deep inner magic and wonder. Probably this is the most sensational track on the album.
In our opinion, EJ possesses an underestimated sweet lyrical voice that creates serenity and harmony. Twinned with breathless guitar-play and galvanizing melody — you have, here, a true work of genius.
This will lighten your load and bring peace to your day.
In stores October 7th