Another strong voice steps into the spotlight in the arena of American fingerpicked guitar. Though this is far from Johnson's first foray its one of his strongest statements in a long line of works ranging across the acoustic landscape from labels like American Primitive, Tompkins Square, Strange Attractors Audio House and Amish Records. Taking strides from Fahey and Kotke, Chuck Johnson's works on Crows in the Basilica have a rambling fluidity to them and also that sweet hint of ennui that creeps in the corners of both those artists best works. In a way his songs also bring to mind the more homespun likes of Sir Richard Bishop in that Johnson's proficiency is clear but he adds a wide swath of raw emotion that gives the skill a human touch. Sometimes those with the tenacious ability to pick those steel strings in a furious haze have a tendency to leave the subtle shades and colors out of their work. Not so for Johnson though, he has a tender touch and a canny ability to straddle street busker showmanship and conservatory class with the dreamlike qualities of unfettered home improvising. Basilica is a joyful celebration of melancholy, simplicity and the tactile feel of fingers on an instrument.
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