Brent Johnson makes no bones about not being "authentic". He's white, can't have any real idea what kinda hell Black musicians endured back in the day, and wouldn't want to pretend for a millisecond that he does. What he knows, however, is that he loves the "raw, honest, and dirty" sound the blues yielded up, and, from the opening cut, Don't Make a Sound, you understand with zero dubiety that he soaked it in with no reservations. This has resulted in a post-Chicago sound that Brits and Yanks have long paid their respects and enamorments through. What may be a bit surprising, though, is the fact he also developed a soulful side, as is clearly shown in So Glad You're Mine.
On that cut is where his polished whiskey voice most indicates a Stan Webb intonation mixed with Rod Stewart gravel (but not The Mod One's pitch, as Johnson's decidedly basso). He plays a mean frequently slo-hand guitar, too, although the lad's not at all averse to pyrotechnics and even adopts some Jeff Beck flash in Long Way Back to New Orleans and elsewhere, distinctly drawn from Jeff's Yardbirds daze…er: days…and few have ever pulled that off well, the best being Dick Wiegand in Crow, so ya know Johnson ain't stickin' to tradition, shown even more clearly in his psychedelic soloing through Glass Ceiling, a run reminiscent of Frank Marino.
Yep, this is very much a guitar disc, as the guest presences of Sonny Landreth and Alvin Youngblood Hart more than attest, but I'm tellin' ya Johnson's compelling voice is as much a draw as his fretsmanship. He knows what he's singing about, wrote more than half the tracks here, and needn't scream or growl to get his point across, it's already there. But, man, the rhythms are infectious and the soloing heavenly, so you might want to rush to the 13:15 workout in Deadric Malone's As the Years Go Passing By, where Brent's voice and solos come through as a young Peter Green. And I'd advise him not to lose Wayne Lohr. The guy's keyboards make everything atmospheric as hell, neither overplayed nor underdrawn.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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