CD: 11 songs; 63:53 Minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Traditional Blues Covers
Whenever newcomer musicians release their debut album, they try to “Set the World on Fire.” New Orleans-based blues rock guitarist Brent Johnson is no exception. According to the liner notes, written by Blues Blast reviewer Mark Thompson, “[Brent’s spent] the last eleven years on the road with the ‘Braille Blues Daddy’ himself, Mr. Bryan Lee, as a member of the Blues Power Band…He has steadily honed his skills as guitarist and songwriter, creating his own style and sound that rivals his mentor. This project was years in the making as Brent is his own toughest critic.” Even so, or perhaps because of this, Johnson’s first CD is a winner. Combining smooth, laid-back vocals reminiscent of Steve Miller, keen lyrics, and furnace-temperature guitar, he presents eleven tunes – seven originals and four covers. Performing alongside him are bassist and background vocalist Bill Blok, drummer John Perkins, Wayne Lohr on keyboards, and special guest guitarists Alvin Youngblood Hart and Sonny Landreth. The following three songs are Johnson’s own compositions, and the very best for radio play:
Track 01: “Don’t Make a Sound” – This catchy opening number will open one’s eyes to the joys and pains of life on the tour circuit: “Caught my eye on the devil drinking at the end of the bar – hands wrapped around a cocktail glass, smiling like a movie star. He said, ‘Where are you going after the show? I got a car, a place we can go. Somewhere we’ll throw the money around. I’ll do all the talking; don’t you make a sound.” Anyone who wonders where this CD’s title came from should listen to Brent’s infernal guitar solo.
Track 06: “Long Way Back to New Orleans” – It’s no surprise that an ode to Johnson’s home city is the most spectacular selection on his debut offering. Featuring a rollicking hand-jive beat and Sonny Landreth’s magnificent mojo, track six will propel people onto the dance floor. Even at huge outdoor festivals where crowds might be packed in like sardines, they won’t be able to resist this bayou boogie. Swaying hips and singing lips shall be found far and wide.
Track 11: “Set the World on Fire” – The title track makes this CD go out with a bang instead of a whimper, especially toward the end. A mid-tempo ballad with beautiful harmony between Brent’s guitar and Wayne Lohr’s organ and piano keyboards, it’s a plea for lowered expectations in a relationship: “Now you’re saying it’s over; you’ve made up your mind. You want to leave ashes of what once was our life. You don’t have to set the world on fire.” He certainly does with his final shredder beat.
“The blues can indeed be a harsh mistress,” comments Mark Thompson. As proven by his debut CD, Brent Johnson knows this full well, but still manages to “Set the World on Fire”!