Sonny Landreth
" Elemental Journey "
Landfall Records

Blueswax Rating 8

"Bob Putignano says that Sonny Landreth's new, all-instrumental album, "Elemental Journey," might be his best yet. Read all about it!" Chip Eagle for Blues Revue Magazine & Blueswax

A Heady, All-Instrumental Guitar Delight

Sonny Landreth is well known for his dynamic Louisiana-styled guitar playing, but on this, his eleventh solo outing, he gives us eleven all-instrumental songs where he takes to musical areas that are somewhat different from anything he's done prior. First and foremost, Landreth utilizes strings on five tracks. You heard me right! Sam Broussard of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys handles the arrangements that are performed by members of Louisiana's Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, conducted by their music director Mariusz Smolij. I certainly wasn't expecting anything like this from Sonny, but I marveled at the dreamy results. All songs were written by Mr. Landreth, and he produced this fine disc, too.

That being said, there's something here for everyone as Landreth and company meander through rock, zydeco, country, hints of jazz, and even reggae, where it's seamless and at times gorgeous and breathtaking. The opening track features guest guitar god Joe Satriani on "Gaia Tribe." It's also one of the strings tracks and, man, it's a beauty with all the guitar antics you'd probably imagine and more! "Heavy Heart Rising" is pretty and offers multiple changes and has scenic imagery. The country-like "Wonderide" romps along smartly. "Passionola" features Austin's legendary guitarist Eric Johnson and it's another guitar delight. "Letting Go" starts gently and eventually takes off, then lands softly; it's a marvelous and well-crafted tune. The perky title track has good tempo, but wouldn't have been my title-track selection. The somewhat spacey "Brave New Girl" is mesmerizing as it meanders through fascinating moods. The reggae-like "Forgotten Story" also adds Robert Greenridge's steel drums, but in the end I found it a bit odd sounding. The high-speed "Reckless Beauty" romps and finds Landreth sliding intensely and passionately over the vamp. The album closes on a somber note with "Opening Sky" with strings and it's an intriguing way to bring down the curtain on this excellent recording.

With the sense of adventure here I have to give Landreth high marks for attempting to make a recording of this caliber and style. He pulls it off, showing that he can fit in and blend within all that's offered here, where there's always new guitar sounds evolving. And he does it with charm and makes it sound seamless, not an easy task. This isn't your typical Sonny Landreth album, but for me it's his best, and I look forward to more of these stylistic recordings from Landreth as he seemingly feels comfortable and contented making albums like this one. Bravo!

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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