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Stratocaster wizard Eric Johnson dives deep into his studio vault and surfaces with two new albums: The Book of Making and Yesterday Meets Today

Eric Johnson
(Image credit: Max Crace)

During the lockdown period of 2020, many artists turned their attention towards writing, recording and spending time in the studio developing projects that might otherwise not have happened due to touring commitments.

Eric Johnson’s new album releases are a case in point.

With time on his hands, the Grammy-winning guitarist decided to trawl through his studio vault, emerging with enough solid material to put together two nine-song albums.

Pulling out unfinished tracks, demos, outtakes and simple ideas, Johnson’s stash of inspiration yielded numerous leaping off points that culminated in eighteen complete pieces of music.

“I started pulling these recordings out of the vault at my studio,” he recalled. “Some were professionally done, some were just scratch tapes, some were rehearsal recordings on cassette.”

In reviewing 25 years of raw creative output, Johnson says he discovered a “certain personal magic,” and tried to keep the essence of his unfinished creations intact.

Additionally, some ideas have been newly embellished while others are fresh compositions.

Emerging from the pandemic with a couple of new releases under his belt, Johnson feels positive about the future.

The thoughts, aspirations and revelations I had in making this project will help bring me closer to tuning my direction

Eric Johnson

“As life’s road over the last couple of years has been unpredictable for all of us,” he says, “I truly believe it leads to a brighter road of possibilities.

“The thoughts, aspirations and revelations I had in making this project will help bring me closer to tuning my direction to trying to make my future music as emotionally positive and uplifting as I can.”

The Book of Making and Yesterday Meets Today are now available on CD, LP and cassette via Blue Élan Records.

Fans will be able to unlock seven bonus tracks when they purchase both albums together. 

In this enlightening interview with Sonic Perspectives, Johnson talks about the process of putting the albums together following the cancellation of tour dates in March 2020.

“Seven of the eighteen [tracks] are brand-new pieces that I recorded from scratch just recently,” he reveals, “but the other eleven were just bits and pieces that I had in my closet…

“When I came home in 2020 when Covid hit, I got these pieces out. I thought, I’ll overdub on this, I’ll transfer that, I’ll redo that and I just kind of put it together."

I think [tone] is more on the fingers

Eric Johnson

Elsewhere, Johnson talks about electric guitar gear and offers some insight when it comes to tone.

“I think [tone] is more on the fingers,” he says, “and your muting technique and picking technique. But then, having said that, you’ve got to have a certain amount of gain on the amp to make it sing.

“The equipment comes into play, but I don’t know if it comes into play as much as I thought it had over the years. Because people tell me, [when] I’ll play through just a tiny, little practice amp, ‘It always sounds like you.’ 

"And that’s pretty true with everybody.”

Order The Book of Making and Yesterday Meets Today here (opens in new tab).

Rod Brakes
Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab)Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.