On Night Sky, Raymond Gonzalez is a moodily contemplative guitarist-composer-singer along the lines of a continually mellow and lamentive Kenny Loggins, Dan Fogelberg, or Bruce Cockburn, maybe even David Wilcox without all that gent's exuberances. He maintains a solo atmosphere, sometimes softly tracked for his own backing vocals or secondarily recessed instrumental colorations. Gonzalez perpetually sings in an afternoon mood after a storm, grey clouds lingering overhead, the air still and expectant, a mileu of introspection, regret, hope, and solitude.
His guitar playing is a beautifully restrained fingerpicking style given to subtle chordal chases and interlocking patterns perpetually underscoring stories of existential wonder and dashed desires. His lyrics fetchingly draw the listener into classic and delicately turned metaphors emphasizing the human condition, its joys, its sadnesses, and its puzzlements. Unfortunately, there aren't enough solos like the one in Did You Hear the Moon? (and even that's too short), which somewhat robs the listener of the full measure of the guy's acumen, a skill and taste that has been recognized by such figures as John Renbourn, Patty Larkin, and Jonathan Edwards, all of whom he's performed with.
I love threnody, and Gonzalez's music is a cavalcade of it in folkily mellifluous tones with arrangements tugging at the heart and whispering in the ear…or you might want to sit in meditative quietude while questing for the meaning of it all. As to the strictly instrumental side, though, hasten to check out the concurrent release, Tunes frm the Blue Fish II (reviewed here), where the guy unleashes all the guitar promise heard here on Night Sky. It wasn't a mistake that this disc was fully meant to have that nocturne atmosphere of largos and adagios.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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