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Up Close

4.5 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 7, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

2010 release from the guitar great. Eric Johnson rates as one of the premier guitarist of our day, but also excels as a composer, singer and musical entertainer. He boasts a Grammy award and five nominations, a platinum album, and the rare achievent of instrumental hit songs.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 7, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B0045ASBRK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,893 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Being a long time fan, its great to see a new EJ album after the wait since 2005's "Bloom".

Unfortunately, Up Close is a bit hit and miss in its delivery - lots of variety but the album feels disjointed, more like a collection of singles, with too many guest vocal collaborations.

That's not to say that the guests don't deliver:- there are some fine performances, particularly Johnny Lang on Austin and Malford Milligan on Brilliant Room. Austin is probably the album highlight (it's also the first single from the CD) with a melody that immediately recalls Stevie Wonder's "I was made to love her" - top stuff!

Austin is also the best balanced collaboration, allowing EJ to step forward with some fantastic soloing but too often the other vocal tracks seem to showcase mainly the vocalists, and EJ's signature melodic guitar runs rarely take centre stage (see for example Brilliant Room or A Change Has Come to Me.)

Texas is a close relation of Red House, and features Steve Miller on vocals. Being EJ, it's technically flawless in performance, but ultimately remains a fairly standard blues number that fails to excite or explore new territory and, at 6+mins long, it actually stops the album's early build up of momentum.

On the plus side, Arithmetic and Your Book are both wonderful ballads, with Eric taking lead vocals. It's not new ground for Eric but these are both great songs and touching performances.

It's a shame that A Change Has Come to Me doesn't fulfil its early promise, opening with some great chiming tones, some lovely Hendrixy phrasing and a strong chorus but the song never lands the knockout punch, losing direction somewhat in its latter stages, with a reprise section that feels tacked on and awkward.
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Format: Audio CD
It's been five long years since the release of Eric Johnson's last disc "Bloom" and now, finally is his latest release "Up Close".
For Mr. Johnson this is a quick turnaround for new music seeing that the span between "Bloom" and his previous release "Venus Isle" was eight lonnnggg years.
This is what we Eric Johnson fans have grown accustomed to because the end result is always outstanding and this release is no different.
This disc is a little different then previous releases.
Eric who does most of his own vocals, has many guests taking over the vocal reins. Steve Miller on "Texas", bluesman Jonny Lang on "Austin" and Malford Milligan does "Brilliant Room".
Guitar greats Sonny Landreth and Jimmy Vaughn also make appearances playing guitar on "Your Book" and "Texas" respectively.
The great Johnson instrumentals are also here. Fatdaddy and Gem are two of my new favorites.
After giving it a few listens it could very well be one his best.
This will be in my home system for quite some time.
So EJ and guitar fans go out and buy this as an early Christmas present to yourself, because, like me, I couldn't wait.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like many of my favorite albums, this one grew on me the more I listened to it. Eric has some guest singers on a few tracks, which was cool. His lead tone has evolved over the years. There's definitely less delay on this album than in the past; giving it a more natural sound. I like it.

Instrumental Tunes: 'Fatdaddy' and 'Vortexan' to me seem like generic bluesy-rock space-fillers without much meat. I felt the same way about 'Camel's Night Out' and some of Eric's other previous tracks. Conversely, the instrumental tune 'Gem' is catchy. Think 'Pavilion'. I think the chicken pickin' tune 'On the Way' is unremarkable.

Vocal Tunes: Honestly, I've always found Eric's lyrics a bit trite and obtuse. I felt the same about 'A Change Has Come to Me', 'Brilliant Room', 'Your Book', and 'Arithmetic' at first as well. The fantastic phrasing between lines, Hendrixy tone, and catchy melody on '...Change' finally won me over. 'Brilliant Room' has some great leads. 'Arithmetic' has a good message and probably has some deep meaning for Eric, and I appreciate it from that level. The brief intro to 'Arithmetic' is wonderful and reminds me of a more complex version of the intro to 'Take My Hand' by Toto (credits from the movie Dune).

All said, I like this album better than 'Bloom' and think it's on par with 'Venus Isle'. I'd give it a 4.5 if I could, but will round up to 5 since I've been an EJ fan for many years.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Two disclosures: I'm not a musician and I've been a fan since 2004ish.

This is a good album with some flaws. Mr. Johnson has said in interviews that this album was an opportunity to let go of some of his perfectionism (not all) and get closer to his audience, something he started in the previous album, Bloom. You can hear it, in a good way, in this album. Overall, it has a sense of fun and openness that isn't as clear on his previous albums. Though I only liked half the songs when I first heard them, I like all but one now.

"Fat Daddy," is a fun ride. "Brilliant Room" has amazing lyrics and a great performance by Malford Milligan. "Gem" is easily my favorite with the koto-like opening and clear delivery. "Vortexan" made me want to drive around Dallas at night while listening to it; seems the perfect backdrop with just enough city to balance out the country, dancing along a blues edge. "On The Way" is a pure, upbeat country song that got my foot tapping. It's easily the most fun song on the album. "Arithmetic" does a beautiful job of reminding me of the important people in my life. It has a reference at the end of the song to God's judgment of our lives, though Mr. Johnson puts it in the context of who we've loved. Very nice. "A Change Has Come to Me" didn't start out as a song I liked due to the lyrics (they struck me as messy and a little too New Agey). However, I find I enjoy the simple beginning that gradually becomes more complex as the song unfolds. "Your Book", a song Mr. Johnson wrote for his father, is a wonderful statement regarding how any book written or movie made about our lives can never really capture the fascinating complexity and depths of who we are.

That said, there are weak points. First, the interludes.
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