Reviewed: May, 2011
Release is the second solo project released by guitarist, Damon Johnson, which, like his first solo album, Dust, is all acoustic. While there are some tunes between the two albums that complement each other, Release presents an excellent collection of mostly Johnson crafted tunes that have a feel and vibe all their own.
Beautifully crafted lyrics, perfect melodies and chording on the guitar and vocals all make Release a must-have album for your listening library. While Johnson is certainly capable of blazing acoustic and electric guitars, alike, with his incredible playing ability, it’s how he plays simple chords and melodies on each song. One additional note or chord would have upset the balance of these excellently crafted jewels and Damon seems to know that as he offers them up. Cuts like the title song, as well as Dayton, Ohio, Leave It All Behind and Satellites conjured up memories of Layne Staley while have sounds distinctly Damon.
As is often the case, while I loved the entire album, I do have a couple of personal favorites. Pontiac takes me back to my teens, tearing up roads all over the country. I swear that I can almost smell the farms and orchards I used to drive by as a kid as I listen to this song. Another favorite is Just Feel Better. Co-written by Damon and originally recorded by Santana with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler kicking in with vocals, Johnson sings it with the heart and soul of one who lived the story told within the lyrics. Listen to this song once and it will stay in your cranium for hours.
Okay. I lied. I have a third favorite from the album. Generation Landslide from Alice Cooper’s 1973 album, Billion Dollar Babies, is remarkable for several reasons. One being that, though performed acoustically, the song is bang-on identical to the original recording. So much so that the second reason for its remarkableness is that, because I knew that Alice was on that song, I assumed that he provided all of the vocals on it. Nope. Except for the help on the chorus lines, Johnson delivered a perfect delivery of the tune. It even fooled the Snakemeister himself (you can read about that here). The third remarkable attribute of this song is Cooper playing the harmonica exactly as he did on the original recording. This song alone is worth the entire purchase price.
If you love great acoustic guitar gently coated with beautiful lyrics and delivered with perfect vocals, you will want your copy of Release. You’ll be telling your friends all about it by the second listen. It’s that good.