When you hear Landreth launch into his unique hybrid of slide, fingerpicking and fragmented chording, a sound that can lull you into blissful contemplation or ass-kick you into adrenalized fits of dance madness, it’s almost as if God took ribs from Robert Johnson and Elmore James, shoved them into a bucket of Delta mud, fashioned a perfect slide guitar player and then touched him with the singular divinity that marks every exquisite note that he plays.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Sonny Landreth’s professional career as a guitar virtuoso, a natural time to look back over a long and storied body of work and reflect on all that has been accomplished.
But that is not Landreth’s way. The Mississippi-born, Louisiana-based legend holds little stock in the rearview mirror, preferring to keep his sights set on the next gig, the next project, the next collaboration.
Landreth’s most recent album, 2012’s groundbreaking all-instrumental Elemental Journey, utilized guests like Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani to help him channel his emotions surrounding Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the BP oil spill into wordless testaments to the human spirit.
Like its 11 studio/live/hits predecessors, Elemental Journey is a jaw-dropping example of Landreth’s greatest gift — the innate and inspired ability to do essentially the same things that he has always done with infinite variety and unbridled passion, making all of it seem as if he’d just invented the sound this morning and couldn’t wait to share it with the world.What will Sonny Landreth do next? Everything, child, everything.
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