Davey Johnstone has been Elton John’s guitarist for 50 years. He has also performed with Alice Cooper, John Lennon and Stevie Nicks to name a few. In his role as music director for the Rocket Man concerts, Johnstone directs Elton’s live sound and has showcased his perfectly placed guitar on some of pop music’s most iconic songs.
on Deeper than my roots, his second solo release after 1973 smiling face, Johnstone brings his rich palette of expertise to bear over a dozen intelligent little ditties. More than competently aided and abetted by his children – even the album’s cover artwork was conceived and designed by one of Johnstone’s relatives – there’s an overall sense of quiet guitar rumble, solid songwriting and layered harmonies, led primarily by Johnstone’s youngest child, Elliot .
From the “simple” beat of “Go Easy On My Heart,” Elliot’s powerful lead vocals countered by his dad’s slide, to Johnstone managing a simple electric bending blues on the instrumental “Waltz Disney,” and Guest-starring Elton John drummer Nigel Olsson on the ballad that’s perhaps easily the best song here, the sad “Melting Snow” offers the listener a wide range of styles…and always a masterful playing.
As much as he knows where, when and how to place the perfect guitar part, Johnstone knows a catchy tune. Songs like “Deeper” harbor a safe, deep, strong Beatles-esque vein (as certainly does his keyboard-rich cover of The Beatles’ “Here, There And Everywhere”), while the chunky “Black Scottland” shows just how well the Man can find and find flirt with dirty single note skill. I’m not sure how much deeper Davey Johnstone’s roots go, but he does provide a solid “tree” of keep playing Deeper than my roots.
~ Ralph Greco Jr.