It’s not too often that I receive acoustic guitar CDs to review, but Lawrence Blatt’s Out of the Woodwork
has been a real treat! Some of the thirteen original pieces are solo guitar and some are layered with electric bass and various percussion instruments, all played by Blatt. The meticulous liner notes give insight into the inspiration for the individual pieces, and also name the specific guitars being played and how they are tuned. The music indicates a variety of influences from folk to classical to jazz guitar, and most of the songs are relaxing yet upbeat and optimistic. Both traditional and highly innovative, this is a great album on several levels.
The opening track, “It’s Not Baroque,” is a short prelude that employs scales not often found in contemporary music. It’s a slightly dark and mysterious welcome. “Jason’s Party” evolved from an improvisation played at a celebration for a young boy. Innocent and playful, its infectious rhythm captures the joyful nature of the occasion. “Where Have You Gone?” is one of the few somber pieces on the album. Reflecting on the deaths of loved ones, the music is passionate, conveying the powerful range of emotions that one experiences during this time. It’s an amazing piece. “Step Down Then Up Again” is a gentle, loving portrayal of Blatt’s two young children learning to walk - charming! I love the title track. Inspired while walking toward the old city in Jerusalem, Blatt very effectively layers percussion and voices with the guitar, creating a gentle but catchy rhythm and a feeling of movement. “Standing In the Rain” is a guitar solo that is a bit melancholy, but depicts the cleansing and mentally refreshing quality of a walk in the rain. “The Road To Poipu” is in the Hawaiian “slack key” tuning and style with percussion in the background that makes it move in a spirited and carefree way. “Keiki Lullaby” closes the CD on concert Island ukulele with no embellishments to the simple, sweet piece that Blatt feels was waiting to be born in the instrument when he bought it.
Out of the Woodwork
is excellent from start to finish and has some of the most interesting liner notes I’ve seen in a long time. The music provides a wonderful backdrop for dinner or reading, but is substantial enough for repeated concentrated listenings. It is available from www.lawrenceblatt.com
, cdbaby.com, amazon.com, and iTunes. Recommended!