The album is well titled, as Andrea Balestra's Fine Arts Avenue is indeed an exploration well beyond the mainstream's polystyrene and lipstick, instead an adventure in chambery film music, mutant folk-classical, down-home spacecasery, and mannered experimentalism. More than once, I was reminded of a cross between Ry Cooder and Brian Eno's early instrumental days. Then there are the slightly acidic jazz numbers (catch Melvyn 'Deacon' Jones' righteous organ work in Elephants) and, beyond those, a decorously unorthodox showcase of numbers for which there are no well-defined categories.
A mostly instrumental CD, Fine Arts is oriented around Balestra's guitar playing, which is reminiscent of the day when refined players like Janne Schaeffer were putting out solo LPs (before he shelved that marvelous adventure [check out the Chinese for an example] and opted into Abba sessions) or cats like Walt Barr, David Becker, Blonker, Dave Pritchard, and others, who were pretty darned sure there was indeed a market for such materials…only to find out there wasn't, not much anyway. Society had yet to catch up. On Burn, George Lynch steps in, and he and Balestra turn the more pastoral aspects of the disc upside-down while segments of Portraits of Isabelle display echoes of Peter Green's marvelous but way undersung End of the Game.
Balestra's another of these young cats bursting with talent, skill, intelligence, and chops, the kind of musician who makes older more established players look on and think "Man, each generation just gets better and better. I sure as hell wasn't doing that at his age!". The progressive nature of Fine is emblematic of another era in which everything's coming together for a manifestation that no one's quite sure just what the heck will manifest. That's a good thing, as art should never be predictable, should always be a portal to the next step in the social clime.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles