–William Tyler: Modern Country
Alternately meditative and invigorating instrumental reflections on the North America found in small towns and backroads, the remnants of a world far removed from malls, Wal-marts & McDonalds. Tyler approaches his compositions like a painter – laying down the basic brushstrokes of a melody and adding more colors and shades with acoustic and electric guitar and, on many tracks, with the aid of Wilco’s Glen Kotche on drums, bassist Darin Gray and multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook (who also produced the album, and put out an excellent album of his own last year called Southland Mission). An expansive, mature album with a very exploratory feel.
–Steve Gunn: Eyes on the Lines
Another album of travel and the road. Gunn is a formidable guitarist, but is also a singer/songwriter, which is the space where Eyes finds him. Kicked off grandly with the rolling rhythm and addictive guitar riff of “Ancient Jules” the accompanying video features Gunn hanging out at legendary veteran guitarist Michael Chapman’s house in the wilds of Northern England (if you can at least partially judge an artist by his influences, Gunn’s on the right track). Eyes on the Lines feels like a band work and like Tyler’s, is his most realized in a relatively short career of quality albums. These guys just keep getting better!
Kyle Fosburgh: Two Night
Fosburgh’s sort-of-sequel to last year’s One Night, these songs were recorded in the same vintage ballroom in Chicago as that collection, just Fosburgh and his guitar. Besides being an all-around good guy (I’ve done some writing and proofreading for his Grass-Tops Recording record label), he’s a serious and talented (seriously talented, as well) musician and songwriter. Apart from a cover of Robbie Basho’s “Orphan’s Lament”, the songs on Two Night are all originals . This is a quiet, calm collection of songs, the warm tones of his guitar blending with his sincere vocals. It’s late night introspective music, looking to the diamonds of the coming morning’s sun.
Sarah Louise: VDSQ Acoustic Series Vol. 12
There’s a definite zen–like quality to Sarah Louise’s music – a powerful in-the-moment quality that transcends the everyday. She’s influenced by nature, specifically the Appalachian woodlands, hills and rivers of her home, and this is reflected in her playing and song titles (“Silent Snow”, “Floating Rhododendron”, “Hellbender” (a large type of salamander), etc.). Her songs are like sound-poem koans. I’m reminded in places of Bruce Cockburn’s 1970s work or Michael Hedges but her own distinct voice predominates. All these tracks feature Louise on 12-string, which gives an added rich, ringing quality to the music, tumbling in bright cascades like leaves in a breeze or clear cold water over smooth stones, or sometimes like a lone note left to hang in the air like a solitary snowflake.
** “Floating Rhododendron” **