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Album Review: Bohemian Strings
Johannes Linstead
Cover image of the album Bohemian Strings by Johannes Linstead
Bohemian Strings
Johannes Linstead
2021 / Divine Earth Media
52 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Bohemian Strings is the eleventh studio album from Canadian composer/guitarist extraordinaire Johannes Linstead, and what a joyful burst of musical fireworks it is! The eleven colorful tracks include artists from Greece, Palestine, France, Canada, Australia, Iran and the Dominican Republic co-mingling their cultures and musical influences by way of a fascinating assortment of musical instruments. All eleven tracks were composed by Linstead and feature him performing on Spanish guitars, piano and percussion effects. Strong rhythms and exciting melodies make it almost impossible to listen to this album quietly, so crank up the volume and enjoy the heck out if it!

Johannes Linstead has been named "Canada's Guitarist of the Year," has won eight "Best Album" awards, has had seven "top ten" US Billboard-charting albums and won the "People's Choice" award in the UK. (I'm sure the number of awards is going to increase with Bohemian Strings!) There has been an abundance of great music created and released during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this album will still stand out as one of the very best with its messages of hope, love and joy.

Bohemian Strings begins with "The Great Jordini," a vibrant and celebratory piece that was apparently named for Jordan Abraham, the accordionist who plays with Linstead. If you can keep your feet still while listening to this one, you probably should check your pulse! "Baila La Rumba Gitana" showcases some of Linstead's guitar pyrotechnics along with congas (Anastasios Bigas), bongos (Colibri) and vocals near the end (Christophe Galiana "Cahut") - I love this one! "La Taberna" (the tavern) cools the temperature dramatically, but the pulsing rhythms and emotional energy continue to draw you in. "Kirqah" transports us to the Middle East and its intense, exotic sounds - also a favorite! "In the Stillness of Love" is much quieter, but no less passionate. Guitar, piano (Abraham) and drums create a scene of blissful peace and warmth that is very easy to get lost in. "Un Beau Lieu" features Linstead on both guitar and piano along with accordion (Abraham) and bass (Jarrod Ross). Gentle and graceful, it tells the story of a beautiful place. "Jacaranda" expresses feelings of relaxed contentment and makes me think of sitting on a sunny beach, completely at peace. "Un Mensaje de los Arboles" (a message from the trees) returns to a more exotic style with an easy swaying rhythm and almost playful spirit - another favorite. "The Garden of Forever" is deeply emotional and very poignant. Almost a guitar solo, the piece also includes violins (Eddy Sulaiman and Crystal Lee) and vocalizations (Daniele Beaulieu). The title track cranks the energy back up with a piece for guitar and percussion that gets the toes tapping and the soul soaring - I love this one, too! "El Presidente" again showcases Linstead on both guitar and piano as well as percussion effects, and brings this excellent album to a swirling, impassioned close.

Bohemian Strings is available from johanneslinstead.com (CDs), Amazon (CD and MP3), and Apple/iTunes, Spotify and others. Very highly recommended!
June 24, 2021
This review has been tagged as:
Guitar music
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