Bloom

Studio Album by released in 2005

Bloom review

Very few musical artists achieve a true signature style – one, which makes comparisons to other musicians impossible. But Texas guitarist Eric Johnson arguably comes as close to this echelon as any musician from the past quarter-century. Like fellow Lone Star State guitarists Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnson blends the rock style of Jimi Hendrix and the blues power of Albert King. Yet Johnson's wide array of additional influences (from the Beatles and Jeff Beck, to jazz and Chet Atkins) make for a guitar sound as unique as his fingerprints. It's no secret that the time gap between albums by Eric Johnson is on par with such notorious 'hibernators' as Boston. And the arrival of his fourth all-new studio release, Bloom, was no different, as it appeared nearly nine years after the release of 1996's Venus Isle. Whereas most guitar heroes of the late '80s and early '90s were all about reeling off a zillion notes per second, Johnson was the exception, as he penned songs that saw his guitar supplying the melody where a voice could have been.

This 16-track release is split into three separate sections – Prelude, Courante, and Allemande – which are supposedly "grouped together in terms of vibe and style." This approach is reminiscent of a classical piece or a progressive rock album. Those genres are a part of the equation no doubt. The first segment, Prelude, is chock-full of straight-ahead rockers, including a Bob Dylan cover My Back Pages. The second, Courante, is more ambient, chill, meditative – except for Tribute to Jerry Reed, which is charmingly upbeat and an excellent showcase for Johnson's chops. The third and final section, Allemande is jazzier, but still reflective. Bloom is loaded with fuzzy blues-rock licks and sweet melody lines. Summer Jam has all the spirit of the season with its fevered pace and playful guitar techniques. Sea Secret encompasses the quiet calm of being deep below the sea. Eric’s subtle licks and runs emit the feelings you may experience observing the sea life around you. Sad Legacy is Johnson’s anti-war song. It has a catchy bounce that’s enhanced by some great piano work. Eric shows off his appreciation for Middle Eastern musical culture on Cruise the Nile. Your Sweet Eyes is a touching ballad that Eric sings with plenty of heart and emotion together with Grammy award winner Shawn Colvin.

Among the world of guitarists, Eric Johnson is regarded as a Major Player, a multi-stylist, and perfectionist, which would help to explain why Bloom is only his sixth solo release in almost 20 years. In addition to acoustic, electric, and lap steel guitars, Eric also handles most of the vocals, as well as some bass and keyboard work on the album. Multi-faceted though it may be, Bloom is still a very cohesive album with a clean yet organic production and is a must for guitarists of all kinds. 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. Eric Johnson is in full Bloom over the sixteen tracks offered on this fabulous document to his diverse six-string aptitude. Eric Johnson delivers another great album full of versatility, experience, variety, and impressive guitar work.