During lockdown, Eric Johnson killed time by poring through his old recordings of songs, ideas, and jams. He took old tapes – some mere audio cassettes – and recorded new material on top, generating two full albums. The music is strong, balancing fierce guitar-burners with vocal-oriented cuts.
The heavy-but-melodic instrumental “Soundtrack Life” could have worked on Ah Via Musicom, with glistening arpeggios and thick, violin-tone solos. “Floating Through This World” is a pop vocal, but there’s still a meaty solo; same with the ballad “Bigger Than My Life” and its sweet violin-Strat break. For heavenly E.J. tones, “A Thousand Miles” displays volume swells and that two-notes-per-string shred that made him famous.
Of the two albums, Yesterday rocks harder, as heard in “Maha,” a stomper with insanely fast runs on electric and nylon-string. “Move On Over” is crunchy hard rock layering the guitarist’s smooth-as-silk vocals on top. For electric blues, crank up “Sitting On Top of the World,” where Johnson pays tribute to the licks of a young Eric Clapton, yet makes it very much his own.
In all, these two releases aren’t radical departures from earlier Eric Johnson albums – yet deliver the Strat attack we crave.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.