There are a whole host of wannabe young gun blues guitarists out there strutting their stuff these days. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It encourages competition, and has players pushing themselves harder to stand out in a crowed field. Some players push themselves relentlessly, continually honing their craft, and in doing so, they emerge as superior musicians.
Brent Johnson is just such a player. The dedication to his craft is obvious, and he has emerged as someone to be reckoned with. Not bad for someone who has stated that he doesn’t pretend to be a purist, and he doesn’t want to be one either. From Texas and now living in New Orleans, Johnson has absorbed a confluence of musical styles, and heritages. This exposure has informed Johnson’s music, infusing it with elements of soul, dance hall, swing, jazz, rock, and of course, blues.
Set The World On Fire, on Justin Time Records, features seven originals, and four covers. The album clocks in at just over an hour, and when it’s done playing, you will play it again. Trust us on this; you will hit the repeat button. Produced by Brent Johnson, and recorded and mixed by Ben Lorio, this disc sounds crisp, full, and fat. Personnel here are Brent Johnson – guitars, Bill Blok – bass and background vocals, John Perkins – drums, and Wayne Lohr on keyboards. Guest are Alvin Youngblood Hart and Sonny Landreth on guitars.
Set The World On Fire is an impressive debut. The album is sixty four minutes of incredible blues. Our favorite tracks include Bob Dylan’s “Meet Me In The Morning,” where Johnson is joined by Alvin Youngblood Hart, and together they lay down some sweet blues candy, dripping with slide, and punctuated with smart fills and leads. Very nicely done guys! “Long Way Back To New Orleans” features a throbbing second line beat, underscored with spot-on piano, and Johnson and Landreth laying down thrilling slide runs pretty-as-you-please. Howlin’ Wolf’s “Meet Me In The Bottom” is a driven, steady stomp, with Alvin Youngblood Hart again joining Johnson for some juicy, satisfying guitar.
Here, “As The Years Go Passing By,” first recorded by Fenton Robinson in 1959, and later covered by Albert King, Gary Moore, John Lee Hooker, and many others, stretches out for a leisurely thirteen minutes. This is a really formidable track, brilliantly performed. Deliciously unhurried, the guitar tone, and phrasing here is poignant, and impassioned. This is a beautiful rendering of a familiar standard, presented in a different light.
Don’t deny yourself a good time. Treat yourself to this album today.