9 songs – 40 minutes
Burlington, TX-based Jerry Johnson is an impressive guitarist/singer/songwriter with an ear for a wry lyric and a melodic guitar lick. His new album, Listen To That Howlin’ Wind, is an excellent introduction to his eclectic talents.
From the opening track, “Eco Friendly”, with its tremolo’ed, Hendrixian rhythm guitar and ribald lyrics (“There’s a drought, no sign of rain. We need to save some water to ease this pain. We all gotta do something to help. So don’t make me shower all by myself”) to the lonesome echoes of the Resonator instrumental that closes the album (“For Everr(ett)”), Johnson displays great facility on both electric and acoustic guitars, ably supported by Steve Negus on drums and Garvey Crescent on bass, as he essays a range of styles, all deeply routed in the blues, with large dollops of rock, r’n’b and funk mixed in with a hint of country.
Johnson wrote all nine songs on the album, as well as playing lead and rhythm guitars and singing. “Mystic Meera”, “The Sounding Of The Gate Swinging Shut” and “For Ever(ett)” are all instrumentals featuring Johnson finger-picking a solitary acoustic or Resonator guitar. By contrast, the other instrumental track, “Screechin’ Wheels” is a mid-paced funk-blues with bass string bends and violin-like volume swells that recall Roy Buchanan’s “Slow Changes” before Johnson launches into a wah-wah solo that nods to Hendrix. “Through These Eyes” is a slow blues with a spoken vocal that comments on the inherent subjectivity of life. “Walk With Me” displays a hint of country in the major scale soloing and the bass vocals that are reminiscent of Johnny Cash.
Johnson wears his Texas influences proudly, with the CD cover photo depicting him at dusk, holding a Firebird and leaning against a dilapidated stone building, with the Lone Star flag projected alongside him. He also nods to the State in his lyrics on the hilarious slow blues of “House in Texas” when he sings: “On Monday, I bought a house in Texas. On Tuesday, I bought a gun. On Wednesday, I shot a man in Texas. Every day now, I’m on the run.”
He also uses his sense of humor to raise serious issues, however. A long-time supporter of blood donation organisations, Johnson cleverly subverts the listener’s expectations on the funky blues of “Not My Type as he sings: “’You’re not my type’, she said to me. ‘Not your type? Well, we’ll see. Because if you ever have a need, it’s me you’ll be happy to see.’” He then explains: “Don’t be saying ‘oh no, not for me.’ Because I’m everyone’s type, you see?” Johnson’s own O negative blood type is relatively rare compared to other blood groups, but it also makes him a universal donor and the song is a sharp reminder of the importance of blood donation to hospitals and medical centers worldwide.
Although quite short in length, Listen To That Howin’ Wind is a very enjoyable release. It will particularly please fans of guitar-driven trios such as Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter and Walter Trout.