Eric Johnson Talks ‘EJ,’ His First All-Acoustic Album
Thirty years after the release of his breakthrough album, Tones, guitar legend Eric Johnson is releasing his first all-acoustic solo effort, aptly titled EJ.
Long known for his painstaking approach to making records, Johnson took a more immediate approach for EJ, which will be available October 7. Most of the material was cut live in the studio, with some songs even being sung and played at the same time in the studio. The result is an album packed with honest realism and organic emotion.
Original tracks like “Wonder” showcase Johnson and his 1980 Martin D-45, which was a gift from his late father. Another highlight is “Wrapped in a Cloud,” a six-minute sonic journey that features acoustic bass, cello, drums and percussion. There’s also Johnson’s tasteful arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s “One Rainy Wish,” plus a burning version of Les Paul and Mary Ford’s 1951 classic, “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise,” which we premiered here last week.
I recently spoke with Johnson about EJ and more. You can check out our conversation below. For more about Johnson, the new album and his upcomning tour, visit ericjohnson.com.
What made you decide to do an acoustic album at this stage of your career?
It’s another side of me that I’ve always dabbled in but never really presented in my records or career. Usually, you’re out doing your thing and get known for something that becomes your main deal and you just go with it. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting at home in my studio just doing what I enjoy. At some point, I decided to put things out and see what happens.
What was the criteria for choosing material for EJ?
It was a process of elimination. I just got a bunch of songs together and started recording them. Whatever songs I thought had merit or the ones I caught a vibe on, those were the ones I culled down for this record.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from EJ and get your take on them, starting with “Wrapped in a Cloud.”
That actually started out as a demo of just me with one mic on a baby grand piano. If you listen to the intro, it’s literally a dynamic, mono mic hanging off the side of a baby grand piano going into a cassette player. I then overdubbed an acoustic guitar and vocal. It was a funky demo and I really liked the vibe of it. But rather than try to erase and redo it, I decided to use the existing version and transferred it over and started adding more professionally done tracks to it.
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