Big Red Dog Promotions presents
504 E. Locust St,
Des Moines, IA, 50309
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Sonny Landreth's 11th album, bearing the fittingly evocative title Elemental Journey,
is something very different from the Louisiana slide wizard. Released on his own
Landfall label on May 22, 2012, the new CD is Landreth's first all-instrumental effort
and his most adventurous work to date.
"From day one on the guitar, many genres of music have had an impact on me" says
Landreth. "For these recordings, I drew from some of those influences that I hadn't
gone to on previous albums with my vocals. Trading off the lyrics this time, I focused
solely on the instrumental side and all this music poured out. Then I asked some
extraordinary musicians to help me layer the tracks in hopes of inspiring a lot of
imagery for the listeners."
Like its predecessor, From the Reach (2008), Elemental Journey features guest stars,
in this case handpicked by Landreth for what each could bring to a particular aural
canvas. Joe Satriani delivers an astonishing, ferocious solo on the audacious opener
"Gaia Tribe," the returning virtuoso Eric Johnson casts his seductive spell on the
dusky dreamscape "Passionola" and steel drum master Robert Greenidge brings his
magical overtones to the balmy, swaying "Forgotten Story."
Drummers Brian Brignac, Doug Belote and Mike Burch, each of whom Landreth has
worked with in the past, lend their particular feels to various tracks, working with
Sonny's longtime band members, bass player Dave Ranson and keyboardist Steve
Conn. Tony Daigle, another key member of Sonny's team, engineered and mixed the
album, while Landreth produced.
"One of the things I've always loved about a good instrumental song is that it can be
more impressionistic and abstract," Landreth notes. "Though melody is always
important, it's even more significant with an instrumental. So what I wanted to
achieve was something more thematic with lots of melodies and with a chordal
chemistry that was harmonically rich. That's when I got the idea to treat the
arrangements with more layering and to have the melodies interweave like
conversations. I also wanted it to be more diverse, to not adhere to any categories. I
wanted to leave it wide open to possibility."
The album blossoms forth with unexpected yet seamless juxtapositions. For
example, Spanish moss atmospherics enwrap visceral bursts of rock and jazz on
"Gaia Tribe," and Sonny's slide swoops and soars over a Jamaican-inspired groove
with Greenidge's Trinidadian pans on "Forgotten Story," while "Wonderide" finds
zydeco romancing classical.
"On 'Wonderide,' you can hear some of Clifton Chenier's Creole influences and then it
morphs into a classical motif with the strings playing more complex changes," Sonny
points out. "When I started experimenting with it, I realized that the tempo for a
good zydeco groove could easily transition into the fingerpicking style of phrasing
found in classical guitar music. Then it was a matter of adding the strings to give it
more depth with tension and release, expanding the overall sound."
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