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Austin360 On The Record: Eric Johnson, Ray Prim

Peter Blackstock
pblackstock@statesman.com
Eric Johnson at the Paramount Theatre on Feb. 1. His new album “EJ, Vol. II” is out Feb. 28. [Suzanne Cordeiro for Statesman]

Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists.

OUT THIS WEEK

Eric Johnson, “EJ Vol. II.” A sequel of sorts to Johnson’s 2016 album “EJ,” which found the electric guitar icon stepping out on acoustic guitar and piano-based songs, this second volume is a bit different in that it balances acoustic and electric arrangements. But it has a similar spirit of honing in on Johnson’s instincts toward songcraft as compared to solos. There’s still plenty of six-string wizardry here, on instrumental originals such as the hypnotically thrumming “Lake Travis” and the swiftly rolling “Chaldron’s Boat,” as well as his cover of Bert Jansch’s epochal “Black Waterside.” (There appears to be a distinct aquatic theme on the album, taking into account also the lovely opening track “Waterwheel.”) But the heart of the album revolves around tracks such as the romantic piano ballad “Over the Moon,” the intriguingly titled story-song “Divanae,” and the radiantly uplifting “Golden Way.” Of special note is Johnson’s fascinatingly intricate rearrangement of the Beatles classic “Hide Your Love Away,” centered on piano and accented with female backing vocals. Here’s the track “Waterwheel”:

Ray Prim, “Soulwriters Diaries” EP. The latest from an Austin360 Artist of the Month alum features seven songs that further flesh out Prim’s self-described persona as a “singer-soulwriter.” Much of what makes Prim work is the rich musicality of his supporting cast, from soulful support vocalists (sometimes taking a lead) to deep-in-the-groove rhythms to dramatic string accents. They all work to serve Prim’s songs, which draw upon pop, soul, folk, R&B and more but ultimately sound not quite like anything else you’ll hear in Austin, or elsewhere. Release show Feb. 28 at Saxon Pub. Here’s a tune called “Too Much to Lose” that isn’t on the EP but was posted to YouTube this week for NPR’s Tiny Desk concert:

COMING SOON

MARCH 6: Tommy Rebel & the Righteous, “Renaissance Dude.”

MARCH 6: Panhandlers, self-titled (Next Waltz).

MARCH 6: Brownout, “Berlin Sessions” (Fat Beats), release shows March 6-7 at 3Ten.

MARCH 27: Tender Things, “How You Make a Fool” (Spaceflight).

APRIL 3: Pike & Sutton, “Heart Is a Compass.”

APRIL 10: Eliza Gilkyson, “2020” (Red House).

APRIL 24: Whitney Rose, “I Still Go to Rodeos.”

MAY 22: Reckless Kelly, “American Girls” and “American Jackpot” (Thirty Tigers).

JULY 10: Nobody’s Girl (self-titled), release show July 11 at Stateside at the Parmount.

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