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Bloom by Eric Johnson

With the unseasonably cool South Texas Spring of 2005 comes, "Bloom", the long awaited Favored Nations release of legendary guitarist, Eric Johnson’s first full band album in nine years. Joined by special guests Shawn Colvin and Adrian Legg along with members of his regular touring band.

Described as a ‘diverse musical experience’, the sixteen tracks of "Bloom" are arranged into prelude, courante and allamande sections, but don’t let that fool you, the album smokes on all burners, each in it’s own way.

The title track and "Summer Jam" jumpstart the album, hitting like a sonic hurricane, bringing out the blistering range of attack and tone Johnson has in his arsenal. You can imagine some serious pedal dancing happening when the latter is done live. "Summer Jam" initially invokes Hendrix giving way to vintage Zeppelin and Stevie Ray in the signature harmonic ensemble stabs.

Among the standouts are "Sad Legacy", a powerful anti-war/oppression message rhetorically and soulfully asking if we want a change in the way this country of ours is currently run or would we rather allow it to become a part of our "sad legacy". It’s become a personal favorite, already enduring enough play to make it glad its not on vinyl. "12 to 12 Vibe" takes us back to pure vintage Eric via way of Cream and the psychedelic side of Hendrix’s blues. Serious chops abound with vibe and tone to burn. "Sea Secret" is a lush, beautiful ballad taken on nylon string with piano accompaniment. "Hesitant" is simply Wes saturated, with brilliant use of octaves . If not for the rhythm section, you might almost thing you’re listening to an outtake from "Boss Guitar" or "Grooveyard".

Dylan’s "My Back Pages" gets a signature Johnson/Hendrix treatment with blazing, saturated, yet lyrical guitar interjections. "Good to Me" has a Peter Gabriel vibe with EJ on both guitar and talk-box. "Cruise the Nile" really takes you on that journey. Nice use of sitar, long, bent slurs and percussion.

"Tribute to Jerry Reed" might seem at first to belong on another album, maybe even in another store, with its Travis picking and pedal steel effects, but you have to realize its Eric at his eclectic best. Don’t be fooled, even though he alleges he’s lightening up on himself, everything Johnson records still has to far beyond par. Think Texas Playboys if it helps. It’s still a blues, after all.

Eric’s joined by Shawn Colvin for "Your Sweet Eyes", which opens with striking, spare, solo Nylon string which flows into a melodic, bluesy pop groove. Both voices blend almost as if they’re each other’s yin-yang. "Magnetized" brings out Eric’s funky, experimental, rocked-out side with a Robin Ford/ Larry Carlton tone; wah intact. "Bloom" closes with "Ciel", an intimate, peaceful solo flamenco piece accompanied with string and keys swells.

The Bloom tour starts June 8th in Austin and the album streets on June 14th. Kaki King, Adrian Belew and others will open the dates. For more info on the Summer tour, CD, news, videos, and the EJ signature guitar giveaway visit www.ericjohnson.com

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eric Johnson
  • CD Title: Bloom
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Favored Nations
  • Tracks: Bloom, Summer Jam, My Back Pages, Good to Me, Columbia, 12 to 12 Vibe, Sea Secret, Sad legacy, Cruise the Nile, Tribute to Jerry Reed, Your Sweet Eyes, Hesitant, Sunnaround You Magnetized, Ciel
  • Rating: Four Stars
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