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July and August Short Takes

Paul Liddell "Milestones and Motorways," 2011 It's hard to believe that "Milestones and Motorways" is the work of one man! Though he's a relatively young chap, Sunderland UK singer-songwriter/ guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Paul Liddell is a veteran road-warrior who performs over 200 gigs annually in Europe and the USA. Liddell's guitar playing is extraordinary throughout this set as he employs percussive, hammer-on, slide, and a wide array of finger-picking techniques most reminiscent of Lindsay Buckingham -- a master of melding pop melodies and flash. M & M emerges as a diverse collection wherein Liddell excels best when he also serves as his own backing band (playing bass, drums, keyboards) on such dark rockers as "Game Show Host," the title track and "Kill-O-Gram." "A Means To An End" displays Liddell's progressive folk pedigree as his legato vocal lines are the perfect foil for his furious guitar work. Liddell's lyrics deal mostly with feelings of resentment, conflict, resolution, and self-doubt -- though the sentimental romantic aspect of his artistry surfaces in the dreamy "Long Sunny Days." Highly recommended for fans of Jeff Buckley, Richard Thompson, REM, and Freedy Johnson -- this record has the potential to break Liddell into the mainstream -- that is, if the masses can turn off American Idol, X-Factor or The Voice and pay attention to a bona-fide, honest artist! © Tom Semioli

Paul Chasman "One Man Guitar Festival," 2011 To entitle a collection of guitar instrumentals "One Man Guitar Festival" takes at minimum a bit of braggadocio and should require an abundance of talent. With regard to Paul Chasman's new CD, the latter is so clearly the case! The cover declares this CD to be a "celebration of 50 years of playing guitar," aptly describing this eclectic and inspiring collection. The breadth and scope of material presented is nothing short of a testament to Mr. Chasman's keen ability and attention to craft. Chasman is a fretboard master offering a range of material that moves easily from originals to covers, from blues, jazz, classical, bluegrass and the Beatles accomplishing all with a seamlessness and continuity that doesn't seem possible. Paul claims his love affair with the guitar began when he was ten years old... clearly the adore has not lost its fire! May it continue five more decades! © James Filkins

Eric Loy "My Thoughts Exactly," 2011 Eric Loy plays guitar with a versatility that’s characteristic of his 1960s roots, but with the manic energy of a shredder. As on previous releases, he plays a variety of guitars -- steel and nylon string, and electric. Most tunes are solo, although "Heat Shield" and "Strip My Pride" feature Loy heading up a power trio, with Mark McFarlan on drums and Jeff Szkody playing bass. Loy plays harp guitar on "39 Stripes," which is probably the disc’s best example of his frenetic style. Favorites include "Christ Preeminent" and "The Will of God," both played on nylon string guitar with authority yet restraint. These performances, whose titles obviously reflect Loy’s deep faith, allow one to discern his compositional style in a more uncluttered setting. He also plays "Night Alley" on nylon string, double tracking in the middle section to allow for single-string improvisation, recorded over a moving bass line. Recommended for existing fans and lovers of Seventies progressive rock. © Patrick Ragains

Stevan Pasero "Twelve Shades of Night," 2011 Get your dance shoes on, Latin music lovers! Stevan Pasero has crafted a fine ensemble CD with himself on guitar at the center in "Twelve Shades of Night." The title is a play on words with the 12 songs on the CD. The best way to describe Pasero’s music is that it brings you into its groove and makes you smile. Night time falls with passion on the very first track, "Rhumba Dee", with Pasero’s nylon-stringed guitar taking the lead while violin wails. We’re off on a different step in "Nosso Samba," but still grooving and moving. We get some flamenco in "Soleares Enrique," written for Pasero’s father-in-law. It may not have the power of Paco de Lucia, but it’s well done, and his playing is clean. He plays loose with the Spanish standard on "Malaguena My Love" while returning again and again to the driving theme. Pasero delivers a contemplative "Ray of Compassion" then follows it with the beautiful "Prayer", demonstrating his sensitive touch and the quality of the other players. The ensemble -- percussion, strings, and bass -- support the music while letting Pasero enjoy the spotlight. "Gardens of Ravello" brings the romantic night to a close, as the darkness gives way to light. This is a very nice Latin guitar CD. © Kirk Albrecht

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

Tolga Trio - Cama Onte
Coyote Poets of the Universe - Pandora's Box
Bas Duo - Colors

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