DAMON JOHNSON
"Echo"

(Double Dragon)

01. Dead
02. Nobody Usin'
03. The Waiting Kills Me
04. Scars
05. Just Move On

RATING: 7/10

Damon Johnson has a trad rocker's soul. With that comes coveted stints playing guitar for THIN LIZZY, BLACK STAR RIDERS, BROTHER CANE and Alice Cooper. Now trying out a solo venture, Johnson offers a five-song EP, "Echo", which covers a broad spectrum of styles a la his ventures without really hitting on any of them.

With bassist Tony Nagy and drummer Jarred Pope riding with him on "Echo", Johnson plows through conventional rock methods as engines behind frequently interpersonal lyrics. Positively, the songs on "Echo" are sharp, smart and familiar. Call it an itch or simply let it ride if you catch Damon's drift, but it's the dwindling energy level as the tunes progress on "Echo" that makes it safe and steady instead of a full-frontal assault like it initially suggests.

"Dead" rocks with a swinging T. REX throb as a platform for Damon Johnson to zap his fuzzy grooves and gnawing solos. Johnson and his team pump "Usin'" with a bass-bombed pound, observing and expunging the illicit crash ‘n' burn element of rock and roll this scene veteran testifies to.

"The Waiting Kills Me" slows the pace as Johnson drops an itinerant bitter pill, mingling eighties power balladry on the verses with modern agro chomping on the choruses. "Scars" thereafter chooses an even softer pop rock sway bred from the early to mid-eighties. Although it's quite catchy and proof of Damon Johnson's dynamics as a rock performer, the sidling approach is anticlimactic in comparison to "Echo"'s banging start. Johnson then plays to his own Ron Wood and Keith Richards wish-fulfillment throughout "Just Move On", his ROLLING STONES riffing (reminiscent of "Street Fighting Man") piled atop what becomes a sugary angst jam.

To be sure, Damon Johnson is a savvy and slick guitarist who's also an acute study and blender of decades' worth of contemporary rock. "Echo" implies that Johnson is capable of putting together a full album, albeit more heavy artillery is recommended if such a proposal wishes to maintain staying power.

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