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July & August 2015 Short Takes

Spencer Elliott "Some Forgotten Color" 2015 Some Forgotten Color, percussive guitarist Spencer Elliott's debut CD, features seven compositions that fall nicely into the percussive acoustic guitar genre. Elliott's technique and rhythmical adventures are energetic, melodic, textured and intriguing. "Carousel" and "Insignificant" stand out from this brief collection and hint at what the future holds for future fret endeavors from Mr. Elliott. Tunes like the opening "Battle of Wonderland" and "Flight" feature an occasional rock sensibility, rhythmical as well as a cinematic feel. Echoes of Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour resonate throughout Some Forgotten Color. It is no surprise that CandyRat label mate Antoine Dufour shepherds the console and produces this fine debut capturing the pristine qualities of the Jedidiah Wiebe fan-fret jumbo guitar and Trevor Kronbauer baritone jumbo guitar on which Elliott performs his charismatic fret work. © James Filkins

Steep Ravine "The Pedestrian" 2015 The second release for Steep Ravine, "The Pedestrian," presents more catchy tunes with fine acoustic insturmentation, building on their debut CD "Trampin' On" from 2014. Lead singer Simon Linsteadt is almost a one-man band, contributing guitar, banjo, mandolin, and a delicate tenor voice, backed by fiddler Jan Purat and bassist / percussionist Alex Bice. Steep Ravine paints with colors from old time, bluegrass, pop, and even a bit of swing. Linsteadt lays down a fine fingerpicked line in "Lonesome Daybreak," one of several songs with melancholic themes. The swinging "Tom Foolery" musically reminds a bit of Tony Rice and John Carlini's collaborations, with more fine guitar work from Linsteadt and violin from Purat. The title track, "The Pedestrian," closes out the disc, and comes in at over seven minutes, weaving a lonely narrative that never loses the listener. These guys play well together, bringing their individual parts to form a nice cohesive sound. By the way, this CD is a lush recording, with plenty of room for all the instruments to shine with all their organic acoustic timbre. © Kirk Albrecht

David Corley "Available Light" 2015 David Corley can be gruff, really gruff, a little bit of late Dylan and early Tom Waits, but not exactly - I hear Long John Baldry, the 60s blues-rocker. With his narrative asides, his extemporaneous howls and heartfelt grit, Corley is a talker/shouter, and he fronts a rugged 70's-style (not a diss) band with real belief and authority. You can tell when a singer absolutely believes in his/her own songs. That's Corley. Take a two-word trope and build it into a hook and an extended personal rumination, that's title track "Available Light" and the notable "Dog Tales" in a nutshell. When I say extended, I mean it. Four songs are longer than six minutes. Other tracks that take you to the heart of his world include "Easy Mistake" and "Neptune/Line You're Leaving From." And Corley financed this late-bloomer debut (at 53) with an impressive Kickstarter campaign that should give indie auteurs everywhere a little bit of hope. © Steve Klingaman

Anthony Ocaņa "In Trance" 2015 "In Trance" is guitarist Anthony Ocana's fifth release presenting six brilliantly conceived compositions inspired by Nelson Ricart-Guerroro's poem "La Luna o los Ritos del Amor." Ocana was born in the Dominican Republic, studied in New York City, and currently resides in Spain. There is a timeless, cinematic quality to the guitarists' music featuring wordless vocals, dense rhythmic passages, and minimalist phrasing on both acoustic and electric guitars. One can hear the influence of Egberto Gismonte in Ocana's sharp percussive attack, as well as Phillip Glass in the extraordinary compositions contained in this recording. From the jubilant opener "Ritos" to the progressive rock inspired "La Ultima Cena De Rita" rich layers of sonorous imagery are masterfully produced by a musician that has created his own inimitable musical vision. The album ends with an inspired reading of Ricart-Guerrero's poem supported by sparse, insightful guitar transitions. "In Trance" is a release that will grace the collections of adventurous listeners from contemporary classical to world music enthusiasts. © James Scott

Ian Tyson "Carnero Vaquero" 2015 "Carnero Vaquero" opens with a poignant version of the traditional cowboy horse paean, "Doney Gal." It's lovely, introducing the feel of an album brimming with doggies, renegades and outlaws and the duel acoustic guitar sound heard throughout. Tyson worked the rodeo in his youth, wrote 1964's oft-covered "Someday Soon," and went full time country/cowboy in the '80s. But something's different. His smooth baritone, damaged by strain and infection, is weathered, well-suited to the material. There's also a knowing attitude about the retro-ness and the sentimentality. "Jughound Ronnie," a contemporary, Cajun-swing take on "Gypsy Davy" ends with the heroine giving back not a milk-white steed but an Escalade. A stately, respectful version of "Darcy Farrow" (Gillette and Campbell) follows. Though he's sung it thousands of times since Ian and Sylvia introduced it in '65, Tyson seems to choke up a bit. "Wolves No Longer Sing" (co-written with Tom Russell) laments the loss of the range and its music. A rancher and 81 himself, Tyson depicts an old man who, unhappily, "sold his horses." In the closer, Tyson hears the call of "Cottonwood Canyon," but maybe he can no longer find it. "Have I waited too long?" he asks. Tyson has a busy performance schedule and will likely record again, but this CD feels intended to cap a legendary career. © David Kleiner

Here's some other great music we received this month:

Hans Theessink & Terry Evans - True & Blue
Joe & Vicki Price - Night Owls
Irene Rae - Hidden Secret
Pete Herzog & Dennis Walker - Waiting for the Rain
Alzara & Brother Spellbinder - Curio Box


Indiana Fingerstyle Guitar Festival July 31 - August 2, 2015: Competitions, Concerts, Workshops and more!




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