Damon Johnson’s been burning up the music business for quite a while now, using his skills as a vocalist and (more famously) as guitarist in bands like Brother Cane, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, and Black Star Riders. He definitely seems to be on a creative hot streak lately: releasing two fantastic albums in a row with Black Star Riders, touring with fellow Black Star Rider Ricky Warwick, and now releasing his solo album ‘Echo’.
First off: ‘Echo’ does not really sound like Black Star Riders or Thin Lizzy, but it does sound like some pretty darn kick-ass rock and roll. It’s a 5-track helping of rock with a heavy, deep vibe that allows Johnson to show off his chops as a songwriter, as a vocalist, and (of course) as a guitarist.
The album kicks off with the riffy, gritty, and fuzzy ‘Dead’ – my favourite tune on this album. It has a dark and rugged feel that hooked me from the first note.
Next up is the swinging and swaggering ‘Nobody Usin’ – a hooky track that really stands out with its attitude, hard-driving drums, and catchy chorus: it’s the kind of track I’d love to crank up to 11 in the car. Johnson absolutely has a way with those riffs, and this track really shows off that skill.
The band (which includes Jarred Pope on drums and Tony Nagy on bass), slows things down for ‘The Waiting Kills Me’, but the track still has a satisfying edge with the heavy undertow of drums, bass and guitar.
There’s a more introspective mood on ‘Scars’ – “every step you take feels like a mistake” – a tune that takes off with a soaring chorus and some beautiful guitar-work by Johnson. Finally, ‘Echo’ closes out with ‘Just Move On’ – one of those tracks that is tailor-made to pick you up when you’re down.
The verdict: ‘Echo’ is a well-crafted and enjoyable release from Damon Johnson, and it will fit your palate just right if you’re a fan of well-crafted, hooky rock and roll.
Watch a live-version of ‘Dead’ right here:
- Nobody Usin’
- The Waiting Kills Me
- Just Move On
- Damon Johnson – guitar, vocals
- Jarred Pope – drums
- Tony Nagy – bass