Waiting for a Dancer

Adrian Legg

(RHR CD99)

Red House Records
P.O. Box 4044
St. Paul, MN 55104

A review written for the Folk and Music Exchange
by Paula Gregorowicz

For me, Waiting for a Dancer has been a breathtaking introduction to Adrian Legg and his music. It seems that Legg has won just about every award around for acoustic fingerstyle guitar and the descriptive "best acoustic fingerstyle guitarist" seems to follow his name wherever he goes. I am always skeptical of the raving that follows an artist, until I experience them firsthand. After listening to Waiting for a Dancer and attending one of Legg's guitar clinics, count me in as another listener in awe. Legg certainly couldn't be described as a "purist" and his style and this CD are not for people who cringe at the thought of an "electric" acoustic guitar and effects. Legg takes full advantage of the electronic nature of his Ovation guitars and, by doing so, creates an expansive musical palette that is refreshing to the ear.

Legg's technique and grasp of the technical aspect of the guitar and its sound is mindboggling. However, he is not all flash and speed without substance. Legg successfully blends his emotional ideas with technical prowess in his latest CD.

My immediate favorites on this CD were the more somber and dissonant pieces -- L'Amour Manque and Carolina Sunday Waltz. Legg uses a right-hand banjo roll to obtain an effect that to my classical ear sounded like tremolo, reminding me of Tarrega's Recuredos De La Alhambra. With the melody ringing over the full, rolling harmonies, it simply amazes me that he can get this effect without any sort of "rest strokes" (apoyando).

Legg displays amazing dexterity and lightning-speed runs in Ragged Nail and Widdershins, the latter ending with a slew of slurs and a graceful, slow glissando. Although it's hard to distinguish on the CD, if you see Legg perform some of these pieces, he actually changes tuning without missing a beat in the middle of the song by physically dropping strings a whole step down and then bringing them back, all within what seems like a split second. With this technique, he achieves a sound similar to a bend, but with a clearer tone and speed than could be accomplished with bending.

Bayou Belles features some beautiful harmonic work in which the listener can hear a bell-choir effect that complements the smooth, rolling harmonies following the melody line. Son of Kiss Curl displays an unmistakable rock edge with a beginning full of power chords.

The production on Waiting for a Dancer is very crisp and clean. The only complaint I have of the CD is that although the moods and "loudness" of the songs vary, I prefer a larger range of dynamics within particular pieces. I enjoy the ebb-and-flow of the crescendos and tacit spaces that occur on some recordings, such as Michael Hedges' Oracle, which I found lacking on this CD.

For anyone who loves to listen to the guitar speak through a guitarist with incredible technique and a little technical wizardry, then Waiting for a Dancer will be a welcome addition to your collection.

Complete listing of songs:

(Before the 1st track is a hidden live track)
  • Ragged Nail
  • L'Amour Mangue
  • Bayou Belles
  • Son of Kiss Curl
  • Kalahari Blues
  • New Bourgeoisie
  • Widdershins
  • Cuckoo Shuffle
  • Carolina Sunday Waltz
  • Designer Guitar
  • Waiting for a Dancer

Edited by David Schultz

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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