Gareth Pearson released Urban Echoes, Vol. 1 in 2010 (here) to very warm reception from legendary fellow axehandlers and audiences alike. Two years later, his rather ensorcelling technique and prowess, not to mention rich sense of immense beauty, have deepened appreciably, and so Urban Echoes, Vol. 2 is a continuation of a story just started (the guy's still in his early 20s!). Pearson enlisted several fellow musicians to add atmosphere to his own aesthetics, and I'm not sure who plays what (names are rendered but not credits), but the effect is as of a golden LP from the height of the Windham Hill days, especially as shown in Will Ackerman's wizardry.
I remember very clearly having seen Jan Akkerman at the Santa Monica Civic when Focus passed through in the 70s. He was one of only two people I've seen hold a big audience quietly spellbound using just an acoustic guitar, in this case an oud (the other cat was David Bowie during the Spiders tour, the gig now belatedly commemorated through CD and film), and thus I understand why he and Tommy Emmanuel, himself a ferocious player, are so entranced by Pearson: there's magic present, his songs are almost incantations from the heart of the Earth and humanity reaching into the lofty reaches of the skies. You see and hear it all but still are breathtaken at the refinement and complexities.
I don't have a favorite song on this CD, ya can't, they all climb to the same heights, the selections running beautifully after one another, individually distinctive, sure, but each one woven from the same threads and cloth…though I have to say I found the declensions and other devices running through the tributory Jan the Man to be wryly echoic of the source of the composition (I listen to the Focus catalog all the time, with affinities for the early work and especially Eruption, a composition worthy of neoclassical status). Urban Echoes, Vol. 2, however, is a CD firmly planted in the CandyRat idiom, not the world of rock or prog, and to experience it properly, you need to sit back, relax, turn off the mental machinery, and just be amazed while soothed and delighted. Any other mode just won't deliver the smiles-per-stave-and-sonic-stanza so necessary to one's musical minimum daily requirements.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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