I get a lot of messages from lovers of fine guitar tone asking me to recommend guitar music and players, so much so that I have decided to branch out into record reviews!
Some of my favourite writing (I'm a huge fan of the work of Lester Bangs and Philip Larkin for instance) has been in the realm of musical criticism/appreciation and it's a topic very dear to my heart so here we go with a look at Gareth Pearson's new album A Tweak on Antique out now on Candyrat Records.
Gareth Pearson (The Welsh Tornado), to the uninitiated, began his career as a protegé of the wonderful Tommy Emmanuel (who appears on this record with a gorgeous cameo on Rockfield Blues). Having toured extensively with Tommy around the world (and releasing several extremely good records) Gareth upped sticks to Canada and this is his first album since.
Gareth is a high-energy player and this record kicks off with "Dust Devil" which is a delicate slow air at 52bpm.
No it's not...
As the name suggests it's a pretty frenetic opening salvo with deep "Devil Went Down to Georgia" vibes and weirdness going on in the background. The main guitar is a Godin Multiac Nylon String which gives a spitty, almost banjo-like attack which works beautifully for the palm-muted middle section before we're back in the dusty madness of the main theme. It's a massive amount of fun.
I find Gareth's arrangement and interpretation skills are pretty much unmatched and A Tweak on Antique features this beautiful take on Dmitri Shostakovich's Waltz No.2 played Chet-style on a lovely sounding Gretsch Country Gentleman (with just a little slap-back) as its track 2. That's pretty damn delicious! Now, while I personally wouldn't have been able to resist slathering the thing in tremolo and accordion, as one Gretsch lover to another, this is strong work.
Another stand-out track for me was "We Fooled Them Again", a full band country number with double bass and brushed snare cooking along in the background. This is noticeable for two reasons, the first is that a second guitar (presumably that Gretsch again) is playing some offensively tasteful chord inversions behind the acoustic lead (in this case Gareth's Maton Hybrid Artist Cutaway). The second reason is that lead guitar itself, which winds its way effortlessly from Chet to Django and Lenny Breau. You can enjoy Gareth playing it with a band on official Welsh Telly below. Get to it.
There's a lot going on in "A Tweak on Antique", from the rugged western tear jerker "Cowboy's Hymn" to the more typical Candyrat stylings of "Iolanda's Nobel Prize" and the outright lunacy of "Thunderpaws" which I have to confess is my personal favourite track from the album. It's Gretsch-heavy and there is some gritty bigsby action and harmonisation to enjoy as well as Gareth's characteristic joy and a palpable sense of humour.
The Record closes with Black Mountain Rag recorded on a delicious Greenfield GF model which you can check out below. Those things can take a thumbpick!
In short, if you like Gareth's work already then this is a must-have addition to his back catalogue, if you're unfamiliar with the name Gareth Pearson then where have you been? Welcome! Grab a copy of this lovely record and enjoy. You can do that right here.
Until next time