Sonny Landreth is known for his brilliant Mississippi and Louisiana-styled slide guitar playing, and he's a pretty good songwriter as well, and he can sing just fine, and he has a strong sense of place and purpose, and he knows how to play the blues.
But most of all, Landreth plays guitar, and he does it so elegantly and gracefully that it becomes a voice of its own.
Elemental Journey is Landreth's 11th solo album, and it's his first all-instrumental outing, and folks, this isn't a blues album.
It's a wonderfully bright, woven mesh of blues, strings, rock, zydeco, country, reggae, and jazz that shifts and turns and builds within each track, and all of it fits seamlessly together like a huge musical quilt made for guitar heaven.
Track after track surprises and amazes here, from the opening "Gaia Tribe," which features guest Joe Satriani on guitar, through the stirring "Heavy Heart Rising" and the joyous "Wonderide" and "Passionola" (this one features Eric Johnson on guitar) to the Caribbean shuffle of "Forgotten Story," complete with steel drums from Robert Greenidge.
Members of the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra are here, too, and the touches of violins, cellos, and violas that appear and fade appropriately throughout these tracks keep everything fresh, and there's always some new guitar line coming in.
This is a wonderfully bright album, stirring and impressive.
This man can play guitar, and while his one-of-a-kind slide playing may always be his bread and butter, he shows clearly in these tracks that he can play the instrument in a thousand different ways.
This isn't a typical Landreth album by any means, at least not to date, but it is one of his best.