Chuck Johnson’s Restorative, Meadow-Set, Near-Ambient Pedal Steel Guitar : NPR

Chuck Johnson’s music always finds the calm at the center of the storm. He’s best known for his hypnotic, yet lyrical, solo guitar work, but for his new record Balsams Johnson meditates on — and through — the lush ambiance of the pedal steel.

This isn’t the first time Johnson’s played the pedal steel — you can hear flourishes of the instrument throughout last year’s full-band “rock” record Velvet Arc. But there is both a translation and a transformation of Johnson’s unique style, heard in the restorative pull of the steel strings and the melodies elongated by low-end drones and throbs, which can be found in “Labradorite Eye,” featured here in a beautiful video shot in the meadow behind by director Michael Galinsky’s house. The dew-dropped cobwebs, long grasses and early morning skylight are a tranquil setting for Johnson’s hopeful rays. The song will be featured in Galinsky’s documentary film, All The Rage, which will open in NYC and L.A. in June.

Balsams comes out June 2 on VDSQ Records.


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