CD Review: Vail Johnson "The Seventh Son"

Vail Johnson, best known for his six smooth solo albums and his funk forays with Kenny G, flips the script for his seventh solo effort, a journey through classic country and rock covers.
By Chris Jisi ,

Vail Johnson, best known for his six smooth solo albums and his funk forays with Kenny G, flips the script for his seventh solo effort, a journey through classic country and rock covers. Johnson handles all bass and drum duties, but it’s his booming, Nashville-ready, baritone/tenor voice that’s in the spotlight, inspiring creative bottom along the way. Johnson’s backbeat slap part under his cover of Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” is a natural, seamless fit, as is his slap solo on the uptempo two-beat cover of Merle Haggard’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man.” Expressive fretless guides a relaxed take on “Wichita Lineman” and the best of Johnson’s three originals, “Dream of the Heart.” Most fun is the syncopated, percolating ’60s-style soul bass line that smolders beneath Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”