Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and rewarding, but one for established fans, 7 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Elemental Journey (MP3 Download)
It's taken me a long time to get around to reviewing this album, and that's because it's taken me an awful long time to get around to enjoying this album. If you're a newcomer to Sonny Landreth's music then I don't suggest you start here. Begin with South of I-10 or Levee Town (Remastered + Bonus Disc)to best experience the intensely complex interweaving of slide-guitar, southern sounds and philosophical lyrics - or try From The Reach for a more commercial collection with plenty of superstar guest appearances.

Elemental Journey is an entirely different experience. It feels like an album for people who are already intimately acquainted with Sonny's sublime style of Strat-slide, for whom the familiar flourishes and complex fingerwork elicit echoes of much-loved melodies. And it's entirely instrumental which is more than a little challenging at times - without the firm ground of lyrics to guide the listener towards the core of each composition. Rather than the songwriter sharing (baring) his soul in obvious fashion, the instrumental demands rather more of the listener. The tracks become open far more to personal interpretation, so pretty much you get out what you put in. Having said that, I deeply missed the moments of perfection which have graced all of Sonny's previous albums, where words met music in an ideal instant and fused into that magical thing... no matter how good the music on this album, it has to make do without those instants of pure poetry.
As usual, my least favourite tracks are those where the guest guitarists and Sonny seem to be competing rather than collaborating. Satch is unmistakable on 'Gaia Tribe' but it's one of the hardest tracks to engage with on an emotional level, despite its sweeping musical landscape. Eric Johnson's contribution to 'Passionola' is far more comfortable, where the two styles complement each other and create a satisfying whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.
For me, the album would have been better starting with the second track, 'For You and Forever', where Sonny melds a nimble dance of elfin elegance with a satisfying, uplifting core theme. Similarly, 'Wonderide' is an inspiring slice of pure Sonny-sound, only enhanced by the subtle addition of the string accompaniment from the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra. Likewise, I've become accustomed to the addition of steel drums on 'Forgotten Story', not an obvious choice of instrument but there's a glorious overlap in the tremolo tone of both the drums and the Strat. 'Letting Go' is lovely; a wistful development of a deceptively simple melody with a gorgeous timbre to its perfectly paced central solo. 'Reckless Beauty' is one for the live fans - a typical brash and fast, foot-tappin' frenzy.
The best is, inevitably, saved until last, and the final track 'Opening Sky' is the only one on this album which has curled its tendrils fully into my innards. Discord and harmony; notes warping with teeth-tingling sharp edges; a powerful development of the theme to its compelling catharsis - with Sonny's neat trick of subverting your expectations and not quite going in the direction you expect, yet still reaching an emotional peak that leaves you wanting it to never stop. It's on my list of fave Sonny tracks of all time, that one. The CD doesn't leave the player without at least two spins of Track 11...

One slight disappointment is that Dave Ransom's bass is a long way back in the mix on most of this album. Without doubt, Sonny is the star of this bottle rocket trio, but Ransom's always worth listening out for. This time, you have to do a lot of listening. Also absent in the main are Sonny's famous 'ghost notes', the spooky, behind-the-glass slices of surreal sound that capture the attention - you'll know when you hear them, because you'll find you've been holding your breath.
So, like I said, not an easy album to enjoy initially. Over time I've grown to like more of it - but equally every time I play it I'm prompted to dig out an older Sonny CD and listen to that immediately after. Because, no matter how technically accomplished it is, where Elemental Journey succeeds the most is in reminding you what's missing from it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in

Review Details



Location: Kernow, Great Britain

Top Reviewer Ranking: 23