Johannes Linstead and Nicholas Gunn
2007 / Gemini Sun Records
Review by Michael Debbage
When two significant artists decide to collaborate and create a joint effort it nearly always creates a buzz within the musical industry. It also creates a significant expectation from the listening public. Needless to say, both the buzz and level of expectation of flamenco guitarist Linstead and flutist Gunn coming together was very high. But does this manifest itself in the final creation of Encanto?
This is not the first time that Linstead and Gunn have merged their artistic sensibilities. Last year, Linstead appeared on three tracks of Gunn’s impressive and well packaged solo album Beyond Grand Canyon though it was limited to performing. Apparently the chemistry was strong enough to warrant ten compositions to create an entire album from these two well respected musicians. Linstead delivers three solo compositions with the best being the moody and mid tempo folksy “Rhyme Of The Ancient Forest”. Meanwhile, Gunn contributes two songs, one of them being the lively title track.
The remainder of the album is a pooling of resources that represent the albums most memorable moments. There are the wistful flutes of Gunn that counter with Linstead’s reserved yet soulful guitar playing on the mid tempo “Morning Star”. One can only imagine the fading of the evening’s last star as the sun slowly but surely rises on the horizon to enlighten the world to face another beautiful day.
However, the most magical moment of the album is the closer “Island Song”. Flighty, breezy and refreshing, the song opens with Linstead’s guitar sounding more like that of a mandolin. Along with Gunn’s danceable “pied piper” approach it is the album’s most distinct song that is instantly enduring. While the previously mentioned tracks are very well executed and enjoyable, repeat listening is necessary to fully enjoy their contents.
Encanto is a most pleasurable album with top notch production and performances that one has come to expect from Johannes Linstead and Nicholas Gunn. The stellar moments do occur when the two amalgamate their ideas but unfortunately, there are not quite enough of these extraordinary moments to make this album abundantly special. Still, there is enough here that would please both Linstead and Gunn fans.
July 7, 2007