Thirty years after his 1986 breakthrough, Tones, guitar legend Eric Johnson is releasing his first all-acoustic album. The disc, dubbed EJ, will be available October 7 via Provogue.
Today, we bring you the exclusive premiere of one of the songs from EJ: Johnson's cover of Les Paul and Mary Ford's 1951 classic, "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise," which also happens to feature the fretwork of guitarist Doyle Dykes. You can check it out below.
"Ever since I was young, I've played piano and acoustic guitar in my private life," Johnson says. "This type of music has always been a part of me, but I never showcased it on any kind of bigger level, like a full acoustic record. With EJ, I just decided to be more honest with myself and everybody, and show more of my personal side.
"Almost all of that material was cut live. Some of the songs I actually sang and played at the same time—just live in the studio. Recording this way gave it more of an honest realism and organic emotion. Especially on the acoustic, you just have to get in there and play."
On the original compositions "Wonder," "Fatherly Downs" and "All Things You Are," Johnson plays his 1980 Martin D-45, a gift from his late father. He plays the steel-string on his instrumentals "Once Upon a Time in Texas," "All Things You Are" and "Song for Irene." He conjures the beautiful, pensive tones of "Serinidad," another original instrumental, on a Ramirez nylon-string model. A spirited steel-string arrangement of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" rounds out the solo guitar tracks.
Johnson also arranged Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" for voice and piano and plays piano on the originals "Water Under the Bridge," "November" and "Wrapped in a Cloud," an ensemble track with acoustic bass, cello, drums and percussion. He rearranged Jimi Hendrix's "One Rainy Wish" for guitar and piano, capping the performance with a jazz-inflected piano solo. You can check out the complete tracklist below.
In support of EJ, Johnson will embark on a series of U.S. tours that will bring him to about 60 cities. Stay tuned for dates and details.
1. Mrs. Robinson
2. Water Under the Bridge
4. Wrapped in a Cloud
5. Once Upon a Time in Texas
6. One Rainy Wish
8. Fatherly Downs
9. The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise
11. All Things You Are
12. Scarborough Fair
13. Song for Irene