[FRUIT BAT] Eric D. Johnson's indie-folk band Fruit Bats was always intended to be a solo act, right up to the band's demise last November. But the aptly named EDJ, Johnson's first LP under his new solo moniker, treads far closer to being a proper solo outing. Opener "For the Boy Who Moved Away" and closing instrumental "The Mountain On Fire (In the Rearview)" both offer a literal take on moving from Los Angeles as a child, the former vaguely echoing Mick Jagger's plainspoken delivery on the Stones' country waltz "Far Away Eyes." "Odd Love" recalls the finer parts of the Fruit Bats' The Ruminant Band, with a mélange of hanging notes and trickling harmonies, while the 30-second "Salt Licorice" drifts like a spare Califone tune. The best moments, though, are when Johnson steps away from his roots. The sultry synths and handclaps of "A West County Girl," a not-so-country song about new beginnings, show that Johnson's influences exceed merely folk.
"Child in the Wild" effortlessly marries his past efforts with something more, dipping gauzy electric guitar and distant vocals into a bath of soaring, late '70s psychedelia. None of the work ever seems out of Johnson's reach, but like the opening number, it's nice to see him moving away from the familiar—this time without his former life burning in the background.
SEE IT: EDJ plays Pickathon at Pendarvis Farm, 16581 SE Hagen Road, Happy Valley, on Friday-Sunday, August 1-3. See pickathon.com for schedule and ticket information. All ages.