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Album Review: Craftsman
Bob Ardern
Cover image of the album Craftsman by Bob Ardern
Bob Ardern
2014 / Bob Ardern
61 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Craftsman is the fourth release from Canadian guitarist/composer Bob Ardern and is an impressive follow-up to his 2012 album, Wires Rosewood and Roots. Ardern’s finger-picking guitar style is warm and accessible and three of the twelve tracks are solo guitar. The title refers to Ardern’s current career as a crafter of music as well as to his previous occupation as a cabinetmaker. Ardern started his musical career playing folk music, and that influence can be heard in his new music as well - even without lyrics or voices. Additional instrumentation includes percussion, pipe organ, bodhran, glockenspiel, bass, cello, piano, bells, and synth pad (plus a few others). This album is excellent for listening with full concentration and also slips easily into the background, creating a very cheerful and light ambiance. It is music that makes you feel good whether it is full blast in the car or a gentle backdrop while you work or enjoy a meal. The recording quality is crystal-clear, creating the illusion that Ardern is playing a private concert just for you.

Craftsman begins with “Tiddlywinks,” an upbeat and playful confection that will get your toes tapping and put a smile on your face - love it! “Pipe Dream” is a bit more relaxed and dreamy. Mostly a guitar solo for the first minutes, pipe organ and bodhran are added to the last stanza and give the piece a very different flavor - yum! “Capo Breton Lullaby” is a beautiful and very gentle guitar solo that feels like a soothing neck rub for the mind. “Schrodinger’s Cat,” a very folky-feeling song-without-words, has a lighthearted innocence that is absolutely infectious. David Findlay adds accents on the glockenspiel, making the piece sparkle. “Nova Scotia New Age Blues” includes cello and percussion and combines a lively spirit with a laid-back attitude. I love “Back to Basics,” and not just because Dave Findlay appears on piano on this one. It’s a great ensemble piece that keeps it simple and fun - another smile-inducer! The gracefully-flowing “Still Waiting” is a heart-felt guitar solo that emphasizes the beauty of simplicity. “Winding Down,” an eight-minute track that includes synth pad and bells, creates a peaceful and ethereal atmosphere while it soothes and relaxes - very elegant yet very accessible. The last two tracks are different versions of “Paso Doble” - one as an ensemble and the other is a bonus solo guitar version. The ensemble arrangement includes percussion, synth pad, bass, and trumpet. It starts out quietly, with an air of mystery, picking up a spirited energy and rhythm as it evolves. I really like both versions!

Craftsman is an excellent guitar album from start to finish! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
April 17, 2014
This review has been tagged as:
Guitar music
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