There are a number of individuals that make their bread and butter playing music that do not really excite me. While this list may include some of rock’s greatest axe men (and women), suffice it to say that Eric Johnson is not one of those individuals. Most casual fans will know Johnson for 1990’s “Cliffs of Dover”, but the simple truth is that ey has had a tremendous career. Up Close is eir first studio album since 2005’s “Bloom”, and it blends Johnson’s inimitable style with a bevy of impressive guest stars.
“Awaken” is the first track on “Up Close”, and it at as a microcosm of all of the different styles and approaches that listeners should expect from Johnson on the title. At sixty-five seconds, it is also the shortest track on the album. It also represents one of the strongest facets of Johnson’s songwriting style. Where most musicians are bound to a specific conception of song length and content, Johnson immediately strikes at the heart of what needs to be done during tracks like the aforementioned “Awaken” and later-disc efforts like “Traverse” and “Change – Revisited” and creates impressive sonic efforts.
“Texas” will likely be the biggest money-maker for Johnson on “Up Close”, as it contains the added star power of Steve Miller and Jimmie Vaughan, but it represents a really middle of the road track for me. A better bet for fans with only a few minutes would have to be “Soul Surprise”. “Soul Surprise” is a song that maintains cohesion through all six minutes of its run time while exploring a bevy of different genres and aural approaches. While long in terms of traditional song length, the track really provides listeners with the momentum that they need to finish up “Up Close”. The album ends with “Your Book”, Johnson’s track with Sonny Landreth that allows for a great sense of closure to be achieved. At fifty-one minutes, this may just be Johnson’s best album yet. Check it out.
Top Tracks: Brilliant Room, The Sea and the Mountain
Eric Johnson – Up Close (CD) / 2010 EMI / http://www.ericjohnson.com