Eric Johnson

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Souvenir Review

by Glenn Astarita

Austin, TX-based guitar hero Eric Johnson is recognized as a perfectionist. He takes great care honing his sound. Along with that, the artist doesn't rush his album releases, as this outing signifies previously undocumented material spanning 25 years. Johnson's intent here is to provide his fans with an album available solely through his website. The artist states in the liners: "The thought came up of having occasional Internet releases. They would be issued as an interim series between regular studio releases." To that end, these tracks are surprisingly good, especially when considering that the bulk of this archival material consists of demos, incomplete ideas, and so forth. The majority of this affair highlights the guitarist's understated vocals atop his soaring lead lines and much more. On the piece titled "Space of Clouds," Johnson minces softly stated vocals with a Hendrix-like wailing guitar motif and his nimbly articulated fretwork. Johnson provides a narrative on a per track basis, and in this instance, added a synth overlay specifically for this album. Other highlights include the band's rocking version of the Beatles' "Paperback Writer," complete with Johnson's phased electric guitar choruses. The guitarist's longtime bandmates, bassist Chris Maresh and drummer Tommy Taylor, appear on most of these works, consisting of warm ballads, boogie rockers, and a memorably melodic pop/rock work titled "Virginia." Overall, this production transcends any preconceived expectations. Recommended.

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