RMI Records is proud to announce the release of Los Angeles-based electric bassist and composer Johnnie Gilmore’s solo EP When You Come Home. His sophomore release, following his tour de force 2018 album Salt of the Earth, is a compelling musical paean to the outside world in the midst of a global pandemic.
Gilmore’s stunning virtuosity has always been in service of the music, not about showing off, and when faced with the mandated isolation of COVID-19, this ability to tell a complete story as a solo player became an artistic lifeline. Most of these songs were written before the pandemic and were slated to be the backbone of a full-length album in late fall of 2020, but the moment beckoned: with all the challenges gripping the world and all this free time to make music in quarantine, these five songs simply couldn’t wait.
The running theme of the EP, seen through several different lenses, is missing the people, places, and experiences in the outside world that have been inaccessible since the virus arrived. As on his debut album, Gilmore’s stylistic versatility serves him well here in creating a program that covers a wide range of emotions, which is rare territory for a solo instrumentalist, and particularly so for a bassist. From bluegrass to funk to showtunes, there is a lot of ground covered on When You Come Home.
The EP opens with the countrified groove of “Vineyard Roads,” driven by Gilmore’s innovative adaptation of Tommy Emmanuel’s solo guitar technique to the bass. The title was suggested by a fan from his days as a prominent street performer in his native Boston (his summer job while studying music at Wesleyan University), and the imagery of driving around Martha’s Vineyard proved a perfect match for the melody. The lyrical pop balladry of “Wishing Well” was initially inspired by an unrequited love, though the theme of struggling with circumstances beyond your control resonates more broadly in these times. The self-explanatory “Cabin Fever” is a nasty funk tune that gives a musical nod to another of Gilmore’s formative influences, the renowned bassist Victor Wooten.
The mood becomes much more somber with the one cover song on the collection, “When You Wish Upon A Star.” This gorgeous rendition of the Disney classic offers some catharsis and a great deal of vulnerability, down to the microphone Gilmore used to spice up his recorded tone picking up an ambulance siren towards the end of the take (which he decided against re-recording, as it was more poetic to leave it). “When You Come Home” is a fittingly nostalgic closer, written for a friend who was moving across the country to NYC. All of these performances were recorded in Gilmore’s apartment and given extra warmth and shine courtesy of mixing engineer Joel Ferber in Los Angeles.
Johnnie Gilmore’s return to concert stages in Southern California and around the nation is just one of the many things we all have to look forward to in the future—but until then, we hope and trust that this EP can provide inspiration, comfort, and companionship to all who hear it.