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Sonny Landreth - Elemental Journey

Landfall Records

11 songs; 45:27 minutes

Styles: Instrumental Electric Blues and Rock

Instrumental songs are like pieces of abstract art in several respects. One can name them absolutely anything one wants, leaving it entirely up to the listener (and viewer) to decide if the title fits or not! Secondly, the purpose of both is to provide atmosphere and evoke emotion in those who peruse them. Thirdly, and most importantly, instrumental songs and abstract art take one on an “Elemental Journey” in the imagination. Renowned slide guitarist Sonny Landreth, on his eleventh release, pours everything into these eleven magnificent trips through space and time. He teams up with Joe Satriani, of Deep Purple and “Surfing with the Alien” fame, and Eric Johnson, whose single “Cliffs of Dover” won him a Grammy in 1991. Here are three of the best artifacts on this CD, whose media are melodious riffs and chords instead of oils and clay:

Track 01: “Gaia Tribe”--Even though the title contains a reference to Mother Earth, this is no somnolent interpretation of “Kumbayah.” Instead, it’s a rip-roaring synthesis of Satriani and Landreth’s guitar licks, with Steve Conn’s keyboard coming in a close third in aural visibility. This reviewer dares anyone to sit stock-still during this number--no dancing, no foot or finger tapping, and no air guitar. One will most likely lose, because “Gaia Tribe” is primally powerful!

Track 05: “Passionola”--Not to be confused with “payola” or “shinola,” the fifth track on this album combines a sultry tango beat with the seductive sound of Eric Johnson’s electric mojo. Listeners will feel the urge to sweep their partners into their arms and dance under a dim-lit ceiling, if not the stars. This song tells a story of hot romance without words, and that is “Passionola’s” greatest feat. It’ll win hearts and ears!

Track 10: “Reckless Beauty”--The penultimate track on this CD will make one’s heart race, and imagine a fun-loving female who loves to drive fast, party hard, and laugh while she’s doing it (Landreth’s guitar certainly does, with a four-note “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”). More than any other selection, this song proves why Sonny is Eric Clapton’s favorite slide guitarist. It tips the needle of the scale of rock- and-roll excellence past “good” and “great,” up to “phenomenal”!

“All of the titles for these songs have meaning for me,” Landreth states. “Some of them are impressions from post-Katrina, Rita, the Gulf Spill, friends of mine and their experiences--so that’s part of it too. Still, I want listeners to feel something that resonates with them personally.” Rest assured, this “Elemental Journey” will, with nary a spoken lyric. Sonny concludes: “I’ve always tried to make music that engages you on a deeper level that way.” Prepare to be engaged…and then transported!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 32 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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