2017 / Matteo Palmer
Review by Kathy Parsons
Opaline Sky is the third album from guitarist/composer Matteo Palmer. Palmer’s first two albums were produced by legendary guitarist Will Ackerman at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, but this one was produced by Jacob Williams at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota where Palmer was a student for three years. Sadly, the college abruptly closed at the end of 2017 and Opaline Sky was one of the last recordings to come out of the school.
Palmer’s debut album, Out of Nothing, was recorded in 2013 when he was just seventeen and he has been a featured performer at the Zone Music Awards. Palmer has also had his music included in compilation albums such as The Best of Reviews New Age: The Guitar (2013) and The Gathering II (2014). Eleven of the twelve original pieces on Opaline Sky are solo acoustic guitar and the title track is solo piano - a very nice surprise! Most of the album is relaxed, soulful and melodic, but there are a few pieces that are more up-tempo and spirited. One of the things I really like about this album is that it makes me think of someone sitting under a tree playing his guitar, lost in his music and completely unaware that anyone is listening.
Opaline Sky begins with “Nova,” an easy-going piece that includes the percussive effect of Palmer “playing” the body of his guitar as well as the strings - an inviting first piece! “Frisson” takes on a more folk ballad feeling and could easily support lyrics (although words are totally unnecessary!). Lighthearted and gently energetic, it’s a favorite. I also really like the tranquility of “Forgetful” and its beautiful melody. “Sunrise” suggests images of a pastel sky and the quiet promise of an early morning. “Reunion” expresses poignant feelings of nostalgia that are often stirred when reflecting on the past with family or close friends. “57” is quite different from the other tracks with its lively rhythm, percussive effects and bluesy/rock melody. It’s a fun piece, but also demonstrates Palmer’s mastery of his instrument. “Manuel Antonio” is my favorite track on the album. Tender emotions are beautifully expressed in this heartfelt slow ballad. “The Eye of the Storm” is one of those wonderful pieces that can immediately relax your mood and ease away your cares for a little while. As I mentioned, the title track is a piano solo and I’d really like to hear more of Palmer’s piano playing! The piano sound isn’t as rich as it could be, but the piece itself is direct and personal. Returning to the guitar, “Nightfall” gently brings this exceptional album to a serene and dreamy close.
Opaline Sky is a beautiful (mostly) guitar album that can calm the stresses of the everyday world and leave you feeling good. It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Highly recommended!
February 3, 2018