Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Johnson Is Learning to Loosen Things Up

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Johnson Is Learning to Loosen Things Up

Article excerpt

For 20 years, Eric Johnson was well served by his approach to making his records, a meticulous process of recording songs instrument by instrument -- sometimes even note by note. It made for plenty of perfectly rendered music that was technically brilliant, eagerly embraced by fans of mostly instrumental guitar rock and plenty enjoyable for the casual listener as well. But Johnson's methods were also a major reason Johnson's albums have often arrived five or more years apart.

And with his 2005 release, "Bloom," Johnson began to question whether his methods needed to change.

"The 'Bloom' record to me, I mean, it's a nice record, but it sounds a bit static," Johnson said in a phone interview. "I listened to it the other day and the first thing I did, I'd go in the studio and play a bunch of crazy leads over it and mix it in, just to get it some energy because it sounded like it was really just everything's tucked together just right."

The results of that realization have begun to emerge with Johnson's currrent studio CD, "Up Close," which was released in December 2010. He will be up close and personal with fans June 30 at Capitol Theatre in Clearwater.

He got about half way into the making of "Up Close," recording as he always had, part by part and assembling them into finished takes of several songs. Then he sensed some of the nagging issues that had surfaced with the "Bloom" CD, which led to some serious examination of his overall goals as a musician.

One conclusion was that he needed to loosen up the way he made music and not worry so much about note for note perfection.

One way Johnson sought to bring more energy to "Up Close" was by bringing in a few musicians to play on songs and trying to capture a performance in the studio rather than worrying about getting a every last detail just right.

On the song "Austin," Johnson got Jonny Lang to sing the vocal. …

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