D.J. Morrison Keeps Johnny A., Jason Mraz on His Playlist

D.J. Morrison showed off his guitar chops on last year's Beautiful World, a disc that ranges from laid-back jazzy folk to electric blues with a consistent feel-good vibe. Here's what he's been listening to lately.

Johnny A., Get Inside (Favored Nations, 2004)

I was turned on to Johnny's playing a few years ago when the single "Oh Yeah" broke. I immediately bought his first CD, Sometime Tuesday Morning, and became a true fan of his playing. Get Inside is his latest, and it finds its way into my player quite frequently. He's just a cool player with great tone, fantastic ideas, and a unique style overall. I've stolen so many licks!

The Tony Rice Unit, Manzanita (Rounder, 1979)

This one is always something I go back to for inspiration in the bluegrass realm. I think it's been in the CD rotation in my car for about a year. It's definitely what I'd call "straight-up grass," although it has that slight progressive newgrass edge that was really being realized during the time of its conception. It features Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, and other now-idolized players who never fail to amaze. I happen to love banjo playing in bluegrass, but the absence of the banjo creates a unique space that's either cleverly filled by some of the other instruments' nuances or just left alone, giving the overall sound a sense of "airiness" or "ease" or "laid-back-ness" or however one might put it. Also notable is the fact that I don't think there's ever been a better match of vocals than that of Rice and Skaggs to capture that high lonesome sound. I love it.

Jason Mraz, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things (Atlantic, 2008)

I've followed Jason Mraz's career from the beginning. He's noticeably enthusiastic, soulful, and vocally apt, but I think most of all I have always been intrigued by his lyrical prowess. His albums are always full of very well-written songs. This one is no exception. "Love for a Child" and "Only Human" get my goose every time.