Eric Johnson solo on the steel or nylons stringed acoustic guitar and on the piano, produced by Eric Johnson, published under the cryptic album title EJ – you can’ get more intimate. The intimate character of the production is rounded off by the fact that almost everything is recorded live on EJ. The production is something special by the way already because new albums with Eric Johnson, which enjoys an excellent reputation as a guitar player, do not appear more often than about every three years, not to mention solo albums.
Eric Johnson's career started fifty years ago: after the very first recording as a fourteen-year-old in 1968 with his band Mariani - a demo - he made a name for himself as a studio guitarist in recordings with Cat Stevens and Carole King among others before he joined at the beginning of the seventies to the rock jazz band The Electromagnets. At the end of the decade, he recorded his first solo album, which appeared only a few years later after the album Tones in 1986. Six years later he received the Grammy Award for Cliffs of Dover. Eric Johnson's trademark is a guitar sound that is due to the unrestrained use of a variety of effects, and a bouncing effect to create a full, round sound that matches his melodic performances, intermingled with fast-paced scale passages.
For the songs Once Upon a Time in Texas, All Things You Are, Song for Irene, and Mrs. Robinson, a steel strung guitar is used, while Johnson entrusts the original song Serinidad to a nylon strung Ramirez guitar. The original songs Wonder, Fatherly Downs and All Things You Are come from the sound spectrum of a Martin D-45. On the piano, we find Eric Johnson in Water Under the Bridge, November and Wrapped in a Cloud, a song assisted by a combo out of bass, cello and drums, as well as in Scarborough Fair headed by vocals. Jimi Hendrix’ One Rainy Wish is done by Johnson in a double function as a guitarist and a pianist, and he performs with the guitarist Doyle Dykes in the 1951 song The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise by Les Paul and Mary Ford.
The journey through the diversified world of the album EJ starts with Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson in a super-virtuoso high-speed version for guitar solo, which sometimes comes so incredibly compacted that one would not believe that there only is one guitar player in action. Breathtaking. It is good that there are also rest areas on the album, as in the form of the songs Wrapped In A Cloud, Serenidad or Scarborough Fair. The listener is experiencing a new twist of mood with the jazzy arranged Jimi Hendrix classic One Rainy Wish, which thanks to the exotic combination of piano and guitar is good for many musical surprises. The different sound of the various, differently strung guitars, which are played with varying technique, is always amazing. This sound brilliantly captured on the download in addition to the highly virtuosic guitar playing of Eric Johnson creates addiction to a continuation of the album EJ. An absolute must not only for the guitar-freak.
Eric Johnson, guitar, vocals