Chuck Johnson Velvet Arc on LP
Chuck Johnson has cemented his reputation as a master of solo guitar with his critically acclaimed solo albums Crows in the Basilica (2013) and Blood Moon Boulder (2015) perfecting his modernist style of American fingerpicking over the course of those two albums. Velvet Arc finds Johnson returning to territory he explored in bands like Idyll Swords and Spatula, utilizing an expanded lineup of like-minded musicians to augment his captivating guitar stylings including drummer Alex Vittum and bassist Ben Bracken on most tracks.
Velvet Arc finds Johnson fading into view with opening track "As I Stand Counting," it's desert-dusted guitar raga appearing like a mirage as the rhythm section rises in the mix. Similarly, "Everything at Once's" picks and strums hang in the air buoyed by the steady swells of crashing cymbals and bass. Side A closer "Anamet" may sound familiar to fans - the tune is a re-working of "Private Violence" from Blood Moon Boulder, with added cello, a long synth outro, and a more psychedelic mix overall.
Johnson's tenacity and constant evolution as a musician is representative in this track alone; he is an artist constantly in flux, refining & reworking like any good craftsman. Side B features more of Johnson's lauded fingerpicking style on tracks like "Velvet Arc," "Roadside Auspice" and "The Pace," while album closer "Middle Water" hums along contentedly with violin by Marielle Jakobsons. Velvet Arc is an album finding Johnson playing at the top of his game, unafraid to re-evaluate and redefine himself any chance he can get.