Eric Johanson, “Burn it Down” (Whiskey Bayou Records)

reviews-ericjohansonIf you are unfamiliar with Eric Johanson, you are probably not alone; but here’s your opportunity to catch a phenomenal talent before the rest of the world catches on. If you are, however, familiar with Johanson through his work with Cyril Neville or Terrance Simien, then this release will reinforce what you already know. Eric Johanson can flat out play the guitar.

Released on Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Records, Burn It Down should generate some heat throughout the music community. Produced and engineered by Benoit, Burn It Down features Corey Duplechin (bass) and Benoit (drums, guitar) backing Johanson (guitar, vocals) throughout the recording.

What is evident from the very beginning of Burn It Down is that not only does Johanson have exceptional talent and skill, but his tone is really developed beyond his years. The album’s title track kicks things off with a slow percolating blues that eventually bubbles over and features some stellar slide work from Johanson, and when he sings “yesterday was yours, tomorrow’s all mine,” you can’t help but think he may be right. “She’s In Control” begins with Johanson’s funky percussive attack, and as is the case throughout the record the band is locked in and tight. Johanson covers a lot of ground on this recording while staying in the framework of the blues, and fans of blues rock like Gov’t Mule will feel right at home listening to “Bang Against The Wall.” There are moments in “Til We Bleed” that sound like Johanson has spent some time listening to the Radiators. But lest you think this record is just about Johanson’s guitar playing, check out his soulful vocals on songs like “Oh Louisiana.” In addition to all of that, Johanson has a solid grasp of songwriting as evidenced by the 10 out of 11 songs on Burn It Down that he wrote. However, in the end it’s Johanson’s guitar playing that will bring him the attention that he clearly deserves. Whether it is the smoldering blues burn of the title track, the dark swampy funk of “Live Oak”, or the galloping lope of “4 O’Clock,” there’s plenty here to showcase the tone and talent of Eric Johanson.