Chuck Johnson’s 2013 long player Crows in the Basilica was one of the finest guitar soli excursions in recent memory. His latest release, Blood Moon Boulder, might just be even better. Gorgeously recorded by Trans Am’s Phil Manley, the half-dozen tracks here showcase Johnson’s powerful six-string mastery, as the guitarist rolls out one breathtaking composition after the next.
Like Daniel Bachman’s recent River, Blood Moon Boulder kicks off with an ambitious, extended work: the 11+ minute “Corvid Tactics” is captivating from the first note to the last, calling to mind John Fahey’s Fare Forward Voyagers period or Ry Cooder in an expansive frame of mind. The driving Americana of “Silver Teeth in the Sun” follows, with a descending minor-key melody that is perfectly complemented by the wistful mood of “Medicine Map.” Johnson throws the rulebook out the window on the meditative closing track, “Private Violence,” filling the frame with lonesome electric guitar and luminous pedal steel. All in all, Blood Moon Boulder is a widescreen stunner, music to lose yourself in. Don’t miss it. words / t wilcox