Don't for a moment be put off by the New Agey cover and title to this CD, as Voyage of the Troubadour is a release by a highly skilled classical / jazz guitar player with a deep respect for the instrument's back history combined with a distinctly modernist wont that only intensifies the spirit of the ancient of days. This is first most demonstrated in the second cut, Moon Goddess, a duet twixt Jack and vocalist Sharyl Gates (his wife, I'm guessing). Interestingly, though Sharyl isn't quite as polished as she should be, that very trait invokes a proletarian evocation of hip Elizabethan days, wherein minstrel and chanteuse join for a round of entertainments in the village square or artists quarter.
Throughout the cut, many inventions and extrapolations upon antecedents spark the listener's engagement with the expected and unexpected. Gates is constantly thinking on his feet, and The Bright Flower is just as explorative as Moon Goddess, a potpourri of repeating phrases and sideways adjuncts, Sharyl again scat-melismizing above. All of that is the good part; the not-so-good part comes in the form of a mismatch in timbre between Mr. and Ms. Gates just a trifle too often and a bit too offputting. In, say, The Incredible String Band, she'd have been perfect, as the ISB was deft at utilizing not-fully-formed talent in context, but guitarist Gates is WAY above that. My suggestion would be that he next time either locate a singer more elevated in chops, just multi-track himself, or lay back into the trio mode of several of the cuts here. Otherwise, his skills become lost in exterior distractions.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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