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Dean Magraw - Foxfire


Dean Magraw

Available from Candyrat Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Dean Magraw appears on the blazing Candyrat label, providing an interesting contrast to the pyrotechnics and astounding aesthetics in keyed-up cats like Andy McKee (reviewed here) and Antone DuFour (reviewed here ). Solely favoring an acoustic approach in balladic manner, except for the eerily mournful electric in Amazing Grace, Magraw displays a fingerpicking style reminiscent of Michael Hedges and similar innovators, often drawing out lush chord play with ambling melody lines along both top and bottom strings.

The picker slows things down tremendously for a Carnatic reading of Coltrane's After the Rain, shimmering with sitar-ishly glittering notes and thoughtful spaces. TranceMission follows in jazzed-up swing, light but packed with trade-offs between chord and notational arrangements, going back to Burrell, Hall, and the creators of modern technique. The several solos glisten with period authenticity hemmed in by Coryellish takes on impetus and embellishment.

Angel Two returns to a measured pace and broader atmosphere, between Spanish application and the updates Peter Green displayed in "Oh Well, Pt. 2"...minus the thundering build-up and false finales. Commonweal, Parts 1 & 2"/em> will, I suspect, appeal to newer generations as well as older because of its stuttery jumps and edgy lines, reflecting the direction a number of modes are taking recently, the sort of kinetic work Hedges excelled at. By the time all is done, there's something for everyone, including a heightened appreciation of the acoustic guitar in deceptively familiar terrain.

Oh, and if Candyrat wants to hear another player completely out of the modern ordinary, they'd do well to check out Dave McCullough (reviewed here) and his superlative solo trad jazz work. To my mind, he'd fit that label like hand in glove just for sheer mastery.

Track List:

  • Gad Zukes
  • Myst of the Mourning
  • Foxfire / Kilnamona
  • Angel One
  • After the Rain (John Coltrane)
  • TranceMission (Magraw / Knutsen / Johnson)
  • Angel Two
  • Commonweal (Pt. 1)
  • Commonweal (Pt. 2)
  • Amazing Grace (traditional)
All songs written by Dean Magraw except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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