Always cautious regarding dread New Age Brainfever, a stupor that not only goopily stunts the growth of musicians pooting out such drek—a vitiation not even Wonder Bread could assuage —but likewise saps the vitality of unwary ears ambushed by it, I'm extraordinarily careful when eyeing solo guitar discs of mellifluous fare; hence, I circled carefully around the back of this one, just in case.
I needn't have bothered. Lawrence Blatt is a fingerpicker much interested in the more progressive aspects of the instrument within a purely instrumental milieu. He possesses a polished style glowing with light and introspective intelligence but also casting defining shadows, placing it well outside New Age puffery. The intro cut, unfortunately barely a minute long, sees him rattling off speedy riffs before settling into the mostly metered remainder of the CD. In each song, he explores a meld of Spanish, folk, light jazz, and classical modes blent with discerning attention to a homogenous result that sparkles in its composition, restrained but well-considered and adventurousness.
The recording is a shade bright in various places, the usual shortcoming of home recordings, but there's more than enough in materiality to make up for that. Cuts like Where Have you Gone multi-track him as wistfully nomadic, layers of landscape creating lonely vistas of forlorn empty meadows, abandoned byways, grey clouds in moody skies. "Out of the Woodwork" recalls Blatt's trip to Israel and similarly summons pensive estates of broad twilights and hidden energies. Walking Alone continues the reverie, though with a quicker step and a slightly livelier set of harmonics, percussives, and chord progressions. Much of the set is quite reflective, arising from remoter sectors of the interior artistic eye, but there are fairly lively tunes as well, such as Step Down Then Up Again, about the guitarist's children learning to walk, and Under the Sun, with its zippy main sections.
Blatt crosses the mid-ground of Alex DeGrassi and the more involved Fahey while picking up, as many unknowingly have, the sort of post-folk intelligence shown by the procession of Al Stewart's accompanists (Peter Wood et. al.) and by Stewart himself. Then like Carl Weingarten, one of the nearly-unknown masters in modern guitar work, he challenges himself even further, producing a couple of slack-key songs. In the main, however, Blatt keeps to a DAGDAD tuning with EVD Custom Acoustic and Wingert Parlor Acoustic guitars, bass and percussives bringing up the background, and an occasional very light synth coloring the corners. Some songs are solo workouts, others layered, but all show a cohesive effort to bolster the ability of the guitar to speak persuasively outside genre norms.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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