When you have as much to offer an audience as Eric Johnson, you have a lot of ground to cover when you go into a studio to record a new album. EJ is in full Bloom over the sixteen tracks offered on this fabulous document to his diverse six-string aptitude.
The title track is vintage EJ, with a pounding rhythm section to back him as he cuts loose with some amazing blues-rock licks, blowing through the song as if it was a walk in the park. Of course, for the mere mortals that pick up a guitar it would be a painful and frustrating experience to play like that. EJ covers jazz in “Hesitant” and the closer “Ciel,” both beautifully done acoustic Latin tinged journeys. It actually reminded me of past greats such as Joe Pass. There is a myriad of blues, rock and pop covered, and even some Middle Eastern sounds on “Cruise The Nile,” an instrumental track that takes you back to the days of the Pharaohs. “Tribute To Jerry Reed,” is…you guessed it, a country instrumental. Danny Gatton came to mind more than once, yet another amazing string bender of days past. Yes, I am putting Mr. Johnson in same company of the greats, where he belongs. His recorded works are a testament to that fact.
The album is broken down into three distinct parts, Prelude, Courante and Allemande. This approach is reminiscent of a classical piece or a progressive rock album. Those genres are a part of the equation no doubt. There is not a stone unturned relating to different styles during the course of this magnificent guitar manifesto. For instance, “From My Heart” is not only a showcase for EJ’s excellent acoustic guitar flavorings; it focuses on his talents as a vocalist. He always commanded a very richly toned Vox Humana, however, his advantage is to mix it up, as it offers his listener’s the best of both worlds, instrumental dynamite and heartfelt vocals both on the same album.