Van Larkins' sense of rhythm and gracefully complex intertwining melodies within rich shimmering harmonics is immense, so much so that he releases a palpable feeling of magic in exquisite fingerstyle compositions and is the first truly affective blend of Michael Hedges and Ralph Towner I've heard. He takes that combination, when invoked, though, a step beyond. As said, there's a mystical aura surrounding his work, and one often feels adrift in clouds and shafts of light. Most of Wandering Hands is Larkins on guitar (and guitar-body percussives), but he's also accompanied by Ross McDermott on bass and slide, Janet Holborow on cello, and Brendan Power playing harmonica, all in various places (and, hey, though it's uncredited, there're minimal keyboards in some cuts, Honey being one—I know I ain't just hearing phantoms!).
Beauty abounds and the crafting can reach quite progressive proportions, as in the title cut, perhaps my favorite track though it's damn hard to single one out and all tend to pursue each other as though chapters in a saga, sometimes turning a bit left or right (Path of the Traveler shifts noticeably) but most of the time developing the general trend of the disc further. I can say without fear of contradiction that this is going to be one of the best guitar CDs to emerge this year. It sings, hums, dances, and invokes happy beatitudes amid midsummer nights' dreams. Wandering Hands is one of those discs that appears suddenly, surprisingly, gratifyingly, assumes a timeless quality, and then keeps itself ready to hand for those times when nothing else will induce that sense of the fitness of things, hope, and Acadian aspirations.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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