Eric Johnson has something that few other guitarists have. If you guess that he has a third nipple or that he has discovered the secret to stopping a charging rhino, sadly you’d be wrong and perhaps in need of some medication to quiet the voices in your head. No, my pill popping friends, Eric Johnson, like an angry charging rhino, has a unique sound all his own. If you think about the number of guitarist you can name buy just hearing them jam a few notes, it’s not many as the list is shorter than the Artist Formerly Known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. The Eric Clapton’s, Carlos Santana’s, that Hendrix guy, Eric Johnson, and a select few others have a signature sound that separates them from the millions of knuckle dragging missing links on the guitar evolutionary chain.
Eric Johnson’s new album Up Close is a gold mine of great music featuring the talents of special guests like Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Miller, Malford Milligan and Sonny Landreth to name a few. Even Jonny Lang stops by and brings his voice for an inspiring song called “Austin” that moves at nice fast blues rock pace. The solo by Eric that is hanging around in the middle of the song is like Joan of Arc and on fire. This album is full of Eric’s trademark sound and it’s a guitarist dream to sit and listen to this guy do things that you can only dream of. It’s almost not fair and it sounds at times like Eric may have an unfair advantage like the possession of a sixth finger on his fretting hand. This sixth finger theory of mine unfortunately wouldn’t explain the beauty of a song like “Gem”. It’s hard to describe but the guitar riff he is playing rolls out of the speakers so smoothly that it almost like a calming nursery rhyme about a man who has six fingers and plays a mean guitar. “Brilliant Room” featuring Malford Milligan on vocals is one of the best songs on the disc and considering the quality of these tracks, that’s really saying something. It’s a full on blazing rocker that moves smoothly like a glider navigating the turbulent air of rock and roll.
“Texas” is just too good. It’s a cover of The Electric Flag song and if you want to hear how a blues song should be played please stop wasting your time with other songs and just wear out this track. It presents itself as a “How to Play Texas Blues” tutorial if you’re good enough to play along and when I say “If” I mean “A Big IF”. These guys are just too damn good. There should be laws preventing them from getting together because they make everyone else look like a bunch of hacks.
Eric Johnson has come back roaring and unleashed a beautiful album onto the innocent music loving folks in the world like a mad scientist that created a Godzilla-like monster that only wants to massage your ears and make pleasing sounds. If you miss this album than you might as well just take a page from Van Gogh and cut off an ear because you clearly don’t know what to do with them.
Key Tracks-Brilliant Room, Texas, Austin
Doug Morrissey- Muzikreviews.com Staff
December 11, 2010