There are quite a few solo acoustic guitar CDs out there right now, and thank goodness for that, but the lone electric has been overlooked, and that's too bad because, as anyone who plays knows, the electric obtains an entirely different result even when completely undistorted: the harmonics are different, you can't rely on that sweet acoustic sustain, etc. This forces a slightly different way of playing. Here, Adam O'Connor runs through a dozen self-composed tunes revivifying the sound of the unaccompanied electric pretty much as Les Paul first invented it but compositionally modified by what quickly became much jazzier applications in Jim Hall and other players.
Hard to tell if these are melodic improvs or pre-written compositions…or both…but it hardly matters, as what's of import is the degree of development guided by a germinal idea, and O'Connor constantly keeps to that, maintaining a path forever returning to the spine of each cut despite innumerable tempo shifts, asides, decorations, and extensions. Perhaps no cut exemplifies that better than Karava, a mutant ballad, the closing track basing in an adagio but turning every which way in locating contrasts and mellow vivacities.
This is 50s and 60s jazz café music, the kind we still listen to Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, and other past icons for, but 2 Head City possesses that 70s spirit Larry Coryell and a handful of others injected in order to dress the mode up in the changing times. With, say, Eric Tingstad, ya might want a cup of chamomile tea while the cat dozes on the window sill, but with Adam O'Connor, you'll be sipping espresso in the smoky confines of a dimly lit dive along with other pacified but intensely alert hipsters, following the musical conversation as in days of yore when a player captured the mind and soul rather than the crotch, derriere, and ego.
And I don't know where he got those beautifully frightening photos of the oil refinery gracing his disc—the UK, I imagine, as that's where he bases—but they're exact duplicates of the sprawling behemoth a few miles from me, over in Torrance, California. The soulless shitheels that run those damnable things must cut costs by exactly cloning their hellhives in every locale all over the planet. The music here, though, is the exact opposite of what appears to be, given the inferno depicted on the cover, an invite to pounding headbangery.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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