Dennis Johnson & The Mississippi Ramblers
Root Tone Records
Review by David Bowling
I have a soft spot in my musical heart for slide guitarists. They are individualistic and each have their own unique sound.
One of the current leading proponents of the slide guitar style is Dennis Johnson, who with his backing band, The Mississippi Ramblers, has returned with their latest album Rhythmland.
What makes Johnson unique is while he has an easily identifiable sound, he is able to adapt it to a number of varied styles. Whether it be touches of folk, rock, roots, Americana, or straight blues, he is able to add his slide guitar sound over and through their rhythms. His approach is interesting in that he approaches a song from the basic rhythms and builds his leads from there.
Nine of the ten tracks are original and like any good blues artist they deal with life’s journeys through a story. The only non-original track is a unique interpretation of “Walkin’ Blues,” enhanced by his 12 string dobro. A counterpoint to that track is the laid-back acoustic performance on the jazz laden “My Love Is Here For You.”
Johnson is one of those master musicians who many times floats under the radar to all but a select few blues and slide guitar aficionados. He is also one of those guitarists who creates the illusion of playing the rhythm and lead parts on the same guitar.
Rhythmland is a creative piece of blues presented through the slide guitar sound. It is well worth exploring.