Johnny A.

Get Inside

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Get Inside is guitarist Johnny A.'s second solo effort, appearing after nearly four years of touring and performing in support of the promising, effortlessly professional, 2001 effort Sometime Tuesday Morning. Inside is an album of tasteful instrumentals, tinged with the various styles A. has absorbed as a veteran sideman. Bold opener "Hip Bone" features Latin-flecked percussion, and A.'s impossibly clean tone; rich in atmosphere and detail, it could be an instrumental take on Los Lobos. It's just an appetizer -- the guitarist handled his own production, and throughout Get Inside he proves to be as smooth behind the mixing board as he is on the fret board. A.'s reverb-drenched licks on the bluesy Johnny Rivers' gem "Poor Side of Town" just completely melt out of the speakers, while his drier tones on the title track expertly control the grit meter. "Bundle of Joy" is exactly what you'd expect, and "Ignorance Is Bliss" backs up that bouncy sentiment with Little Feat-inspired playing and a driving rhythm. It's hard to pick the best track here, but there are a couple of strong candidates at its center. The seemingly mild-mannered "Krea Gata" goes absolutely ballistic in its midsection, A.'s guitar shrieking madly as his blues solo utterly loses its mind, and "Wind Cries Mary" becomes a jaunty trip through pauses filled with splotches of sunlight. Garret Savluk's jazzy trumpet solo is a great touch. The palpable energy in these tracks makes the album's dreary cover art an odd choice. Don't let Johnny A.'s sourpuss cover shot fool you -- despite its well-placed moments of introspection or melancholy, Get Inside is a comforting place to be.

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