Chuck Johnson has cemented his reputation as a master of solo guitar with his critically acclaimed solo albums “Crows in the Basilica” (Three Lobed, 2013) and “Blood Moon Boulder” (Scissor Tail, 2015) perfecting his modernist style of American fingerpicking over the course of those two albums.
“Velvet Arc” finds Johnson returning to territory he explored in bands like Idyll Swords and Spatula, utilizing an expanded lineup of like-minded musicians to augment his captivating guitar stylings including drummer Alex Vittum & bassist Ben Bracken on most tracks.
“Velvet Arc” finds Johnson fading into view with opening track “As I Stand Counting”, it’s desert-dusted guitar raga appearing like a mirage as the rhythm section rises in the mix. Similarly, “Everything at Once”s picks & strums hang in the air buoyed by the steady swells of crashing cymbals & bass. Side A closer “Anamet” may sound familar to fans - the tune is a re-working of “Private Violence” from “Blood Moon Boulder”, with added cello, a long synth outro, and a more psychedelic mix overall. Johnson’s tenacity & constant evolution as a musician is representative in this track alone; he is an artist constantly in flux, refining & reworking like any good craftsman. Side B features more of Johnson’s lauded fingerpicking style on tracks like “Velvet Arc”, “Roadside Auspice” & “The Pace”, while album closer “Middle Water” hums along contentedly with violin by Marielle Jakobsons.
“Velvet Arc” is an album finding Johnson playing at the top of his game, unafraid to re-evaluate & redefine himself any chance he can get.
RIYL: John Fahey, Solar Motel Band, Steve Gunn, Daniel Bachman, Gun Outfit
released February 19, 2016
Chuck Johnson - acoustic and electric guitar, pedal steel, organ, synthesizer
Alex Vittum - drums on 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7
Ben Bracken - bass on 1, 5, 6, 7
Marielle Jakobsons - violin on 2, 4, 5, 7
Jason Hoopes - bass on 2
Hans Chew - organ on 5
Noah Phillips - electric guitar on 2
Agnes Szelag - cello on 3
Shanna Sordahl - cello on 4
Recorded by Chuck Johnson
Mixed by Phil Manley and Chuck Johnson
Mastered by Mikey Young
Cover design by Michael Elrod