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Davey Johnstone

Deeper Than My Roots

Review by Gary Hill

Davey Johnstone is probably best known as the guitarist in the classic Elton John Band. In fact, he's been part of that band for decades. I have been a big EJ fan for most of my life, so that's certainly where I first heard of him. This new release is Johnstone's solo album, and it is such a great disc. It really feels like something that would have been at home in the 1970s. It covers a good deal of range, too. This is actually his second solo album, but the first one was released nearly 50 years ago. The main singer on this album is Johnstone's son Elliot, and he is so good. All in all, this is very much an exceptional release. It is definitely going to be a finalist for my "best of 2022" list.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Go Easy on My Heart
With some country angles at play, this is very much a 70s styled rock tune. The vocals have such a classic sound to them, and the whole tune is just so strong.
One Look in Your Eyes
The mellower mode that starts this makes me think of The Beatles to some degree. The tune builds in a sedate, psychedelic way. This is another that has such a great 70s rock sound. This would have been huge on the radio in that decade. It gets out into more of a rocking groove as it continues.
Meh Amour
This is a mellower tune with a jazzy guitar based arrangement. It's so classy and so catchy.
Walt Dizney
Again I can make out plenty of Beatles-like vibes on this instrumental. There are some twists and turns on this. We get some cool synthesizer work and scorching guitar later.
Melting Snow
This comes in slower and dramatic. It has almost a Rolling Stones mellower vibe at points. This is a powerful piece of music that really works so well. It gets more soaring at times. Somehow I'm reminded a little of Eric Carmen on this song.
You Lied to Me
The opening on this has a definite classical edge. As it gets into the song proper there are some 1950s rock and roll angles, but brought into a more modern concept.
Deeper
You can hear the sound of children on the early parts of this track. Guitar weaves patterns by itself for a time, but then we're taken into more of a full arrangement that definitely has a lot of later era Beatles rocker built into it. This is a standout tune. Given the competition here, that says a lot. This thing gets into some seriously driving, soaring rock. The female vocals later really bring a driving soulful Stones vibe and Johnstone's guitar screams with passion.
Boxer in the Corner
I love the 70s rock vibe to this number. It has so much majesty and magic built into it. There is almost a punk energy, too. This perhaps lands more in a glam rock zone, feeling a little like Sweet. I love how the guitar seems to just solo all over this thing.
Black Scotland
This instrumental piece has some driving rock at its heart. It also features plenty of psychedelia. It's a smoking hot tune that really rocks. There are definitely some space rock moments here, too. The bass has some stunning jamming at times on this.
The Final Quarter
I dig the finger-picked guitar on this a lot. The tune has a definite psychedelic folk rock feeling to it. It's a classic sounding piece that reminds me a little of some Led Zeppelin's acoustic based music.
Here, There and Everywhere
A gentle, soft rock vibe is in the menu as this starts in balladic ways. It grows out with a lot of class and style. The 70s vibes, and hints of Eric Carmen are all over this one, too. I can definitely make out some Beatles angles. There are also parts of this that call to mind European cafe music.
All the Time in the World

Piano and female vocals (Vanessa Brown)  bring this track into being and hold it for a time. Some guitar rises up for some tasty fills on the chorus, but drop back away. Organ is added to the mix for the second verse. This tune intensifies at times. Overall, it's a potent, soulful gospel styled number.

 
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