Coinciding with his forthcoming UK tour, April sees guitar genius Eric Johnson release a special edition of “Up Close – Another Look”. “Genius?” I hear you ask – absolutely…and yes, you SHOULD be aware of his skills as guitarist, songwriter and singer and this release brings listeners up close to his stunning musicality when the Grammy winning artist releases a custom European version of his sixth studio album. The 13-track affair presents 12 new Johnson compositions, plus his version of the Electric Flag song Texas.
Praised by All Music Guide as one of the “very few musical artists [to] achieve a true signature style which makes comparisons to other musicians impossible,” Johnson expands, deepens and enhances his sound on his first album release since Bloom in 2005.
The title reflects the revelatory and spontaneous performances on Up Close – Another Look as well as its sonic immediacy, thanks to Johnson’s second look and revisions on six songs plus mixes on the seven others by legendary veteran engineers Richard Mullen and Andy Johns.
“I decided to let go a bit and allow things to happen and just go with the flow,” explains Johnson of his approach to the album. “I like my work to have a high proficiency, but I also wanted to go for the energy and magic of the performances.”
“The whole premise of this new record I’ve started making is to perform with more of a live feel in the studio,” he explains. “So when I got this European deal, I listened to the Up Close record and heard a few ways I could do that with this album.” After refining his technique and tone to masterful levels over the course his recording and performing career, “I’ve found that the music happens more naturally live and that’s what I am trying to address more in the music I record.”
Johnson burst into the musical mainstream with his landmark 1990 album Ah Via Musicom, which won him a Grammy, yielded a record three Top 10 instrumental hits like “Cliffs of Dover” from a single LP release, and earned him platinum sales status – and for fans of the Guitar Hero III – Legends of Rock” computer game series you will be well aware of the skillful, cathcy and melodic guitar work of that track.
A frequent collaborator with other guitar legends, he has continued to explore the myriad possibilities of guitar-based musical artistry since his debut major label release in 1986, Tones, that landed him on the cover of Guitar Player. Up Close – Another Look is energized by Johnson’s continuing focus on broadening and enriching his work and features some stellar guest appearances from Steve Miller, Jimmy Vaughan, Johnny Lang and Sonny Landreth.
The immediate and most striking features of every track is the musicality and melody that surround every track – whether it be on of Eric’s guitar led instrumentals of with the more traditional songs. It is clear how talented a guitarist he is (Eric has appeared on the G3 series of tours with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai) but what sets him apart in my mind is that the technical ability is ALWAYS there to enhance the song (and, yes, I feel that the instrumental guitar parts “sing”) without going down the whole “listen toi this – aren’t I brilliant route”.
The vocals on the more traditionally “sung” tracks are genius – some sung by Johnson himself others feature guest singers (such as the fabulous “Brilliant Room” featuring Malford Milligan and the wonderful blues cover “Texas” sung by Steve Miller) the album never feels like a cobbled together project. Eric’s attention to detail and quality has endured that this sounds like a true collection of perfectly put together songs.
Albums by guitar geniuses can have a tendency to be all flash and no substance. Once again Eric Johnson has managed to achieve the ultimate – an album that guitarists and general music lovers will enjoy, love and should make this a part of their collection.
Vai, Satriani, Clapton, Knopfler, you namee any of the greats but if Eric Johnson’s name isn’t there you need to ask yourself one question….WHY NOT?
“Up CLose (Another Look)” is released on Provogue Records (a division of Mascot Label Group) on 1st April 2013.
Eric is on tour in the UK in April:
24 HOUR BOX OFFICE: 0844 478 0898
BOOK ONLINE: www.thegigcartel.com
All Tickets £25 (except £30, London)
London o2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Wednesday 3rd April
Tickets: £30 / Box Office: 0844 477 2000
Doors 7pm/ Stage 8pm
Shepherd’s Bush Green, London W12 8TT
Thursday 4th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 01423 502 116
Doors 7pm / Stage 7.30pm
Oxford Street, Harrogate, HG1 1QF
Edinburgh Queen’s Hall
Friday 5th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 0131 668 2019
85 – 89 Clerk Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9JG
Doors 6.30pm / Stage 7.30pm
Manchester Royal Northern College of Music
Saturday 6th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 0161 907 5555
Doors: 7pm / Stage: 7:30pm
124 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD
Birmingham Town Hall
Sunday 7th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 0121 345 0600
Doors: 7:30pm / Stage: 8pm
Victoria Square, Birmingham, B3 3DQ
Salisbury City Hall
Monday 8th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 01722 434 434
Doors: 7:30pm / Stage: 8pm
Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7TU
Eric Johnson – Official Website
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Photographs by Max Crace