I'm not even sure I need go further after saying that this young ubertalent has already picked up accolades from Jan Akkerman (Focus) and Tommy Emmanuel. I mean, what's the point in my abetting them? Two of the finest guitar players on Earth have endowed the Good Fretpicking Seal of Approval, so what else could a poor scribe possibly add? Well, maybe the fact that this is the CandyRat label's latest, which is prestige in and of itself, and then note the further applause of Stefan Grossman and one of CR's amazing mainstays, Andy McKee, both of whom are dazzled by a guy who's just past his teens. Then there's this: Gareth is self-taught…and only in recent years (!), though the sounds you hear will very broadly belie that, seeming the product of long and intense schooling.
Half the cuts are written by Pearson, and the remaining six come from Radiohead, Merle Travis, Michael Jackson and others; thus, you get Paranoid Android beside Blue Smoke beside Billie Jean, all with Pearson's personal complex touch drawn from the inspiration of estimables like Chet Atkins (whose style is as poetically noticeable here as it is with Steve Howe), Jerry Reed, and others. This player's fingerpicking is as intricate as a Persian mosaic, a Celtic enneagram, a set of neutrinos dancing 'twixt sun and sky, and certain passages are unfathomably abstruse. Listen, for instance, to the bizarrely dense and cool squeak of his chord change-ups against the strings on the opening to My Fragile Dancer. I've never heard that in my life! Not from Towner, not from Parkening, not from Coryell.
Pay no attention to the hugely inappropriate cover art. This is not some amateur's bedroom studio ill-crafted conceit adorned by graffito; gold lies beneath that strange sloppy subway cartoon surrealism. Emmanuel has already written a song about this kid (The Welsh Tornado), and I'm not sure it's possible to garner higher praise than that (is Segovia still alive?), but what you're hearing early is one of the coming decade's masters. In fact, his version of Billie Jean reminds me of the warm and mellow side of Jake Shimabukoro. Grab Urban Echoes, then run over to one of Emmanuel's DVDs, and finish off with Focus' Moving Waves. All three will show you what's what when it comes to the ne plus ultra in guitar playing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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