Up Close (Another Look)
added: 6 Apr 2013
// release date: 1 Apr 2013 // label: Provogue
reviewer: Andy Snipper
It is difficult to understand why this is Johnson’s first release soince 2005 ‘Bloom’ - he has one of the most remarkable styles this reviewer has ever heard and has been getting plaudits from the likes of Steve Miller, Joe Bonamassa, Rolling Stone magazine and many, many others (Clapton, B.B. King, Koe Satriani, James Burton all have recorded with him) for over thirty years.
What is so special about him is here in all its glory; the ability to seemingly jam while keeping perfectly to the restrictions of the song he is playing and his incredible ability to develop a theme and, almost bebop like, take that theme to its logical ends. He is also an amazingly talented guitarist when he stays to the simple and ‘ordinary’.
He does more in the 2 minutes 44 seconds of ‘Fatdaddy’ than most axemen will achieve in their careers creating a sound that sits between Al DiMeola and Mark Knopfler and develops between the two.
He takes a standard Blues such as Electric Flag’s ‘Texas’ and delivers something that is so pure and so right that your jaw drops – his playing even outstrips an excellent vocal from Steve Miller. Six of the best minutes I have spent this year.
He hits a country gem on ‘Soul Surprise’, powers up a rips it up on ‘The Sea And The Mountain’ and creates a jazzy joy with ‘Vortean’ but the sublime closer ‘A Change Has Come To Me’ is simply divine.
He has been playing since he was 12 and playing Wes Montgomery numbers at 15 and now, at 59, he is still developing and still learning but this album shows that he is still at the peak of his powers.
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