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Satriani and Eric Johnson guest on slide guitarist’s new CD

Sonny Landreth’s 11th album named Elemental Journey features guest guitarists, in this case handpicked by Landreth for what each could bring to the studio.

Like its predecessor, From the Reach (2008), Sonny Landreth’s 11th album named 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.”

“From day one on the guitar, many genres of music have had an impact on me” says Landreth (left). “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.”

“When I first heard Joe’s solo,” Sonny recalls, “I went, ‘This is incredible! I love it but it just comes up out of nowhere — how am I gonna make it fit?’ After talking to Joe, I realized this was a great opportunity to raise the bar creatively. That’s when I got the idea to double the surprise factor and have the strings make their first appearance for the album in the middle of his solo. The next thing I know, a song that had started out as kind of a simple surf thing had become this wild ride of an epic piece and one of my favorite productions.”

Landreth’s music has always been evocative, a vibrant mixture of indigenous sounds and images informed by Delta blues and Faulkner alike. But here, by eschewing lyrics and vocals, he’s located something especially pure and unfettered. “What I’d hoped to end up creating was sonic stories without words,” he says. “And because there are no lyrics, it’s really important to connect on an emotional level. All of the titles for these songs have meaning for me — some of them are impressions from post-Katrina, Rita, the Gulf Spill, friends of mine and their experiences — so that’s part of it too. Still, I want listeners to feel something that resonates with them personally. I’ve always tried to make music that engages you on a deeper level that way.”