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Eric T. Johnson: By The Sea

With expert support from his band, Crosscurrent, guitarist Eric T. Johnson offers a picturesque, stylistically varied effort on By the Sea (Laugh & Jangle Records 1005; 59:39). Although Johnson favors a Brazilian-breezy, acoustically layered sound on tunes like the playful album opener “Maresia” and gently melodic “A Biera Mar,” he is also apt to stretch out in somewhat unexpected directions-“Milton-esque,” a lovely vocalese-driven tribute to Milton Nascimento, breaks down to a majestic club jazz-styled solo, while “Gondwanaland” meditates in hypnotic deep circles of melody and countermelody before Johnson breaks things open with a rock-out solo. The piping “Sand in Your Suit” finds Johnson injecting just a hint of blues in his guitar line, and “The Devil’s Bridge” features driving, full-textured 12-string strum, horns and vocals in powerful parallel strokes. Throughout, Johnson builds on his “seafaring” theme by looking from different perspectives, rather than merely serving up another set of lukewarm quasi-Brazilian or Caribbean tunes.

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