The Minstrel's Return
2020 / Matteo Palmer
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Minstrel’s Return is the fourth “finger-style” guitar album from Matteo Palmer. The twelve original tracks are mostly solo acoustic guitar, with one track each featuring Trevor Gordon Hall, Shambhu, and Nick Wilson, and one with vocalist Teghan Devon. Overall, the music is very soothing and easy-going, but there is more than enough variety to keep more focused listeners happy and coming back for more. Despite the relaxed pace of most of the music, it is more than obvious that Matteo is an exceptional musician whose style has matured (like fine wine!) over the past several years and that he is an artist to watch. In addition to writing all of the music, The Minstrel’s Return was recorded, mixed, mastered and produced by Matteo. Part of a very talented family, Matteo’s brother, Ezekiel Palmer did the cover artwork!
Matteo recorded his debut album, Out of Nothing, in 2013 at Will Ackerman's Imaginary Road Studios; Matteo was seventeen at the time! His second album, Embers, was also recorded at Imaginary Road and was released in 2016. Matteo studied composition at the McNally Smith College of Music and recorded his third album, Opaline Sky, there in 2017. In addition to his finger style guitar music, Matteo has written and recorded orchestrated music intended for television and video games, has a side project called “DRACARYS” that features piano-heavy, electronic soundscapes and grooves, and released an album called Stratosphere that takes his biggest influences and combines them to create a unique blend of R&B, hip hop and electronic genres.
The Minstrel’s Return begins with the title track, a piece where Matteo plays the strings of the guitar as well as the body of the instrument to create percussive effects - nice start! “If Only” features fellow guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall in a sweet daydream of a piece performed with acoustic and electric guitars. “Mountain Pass” picks up the energy level a bit to express the breathless (but unhurried) exhilaration of being in a place of exceptional natural beauty (my interpretation) - a favorite! “The Wedding Song” overflows with feelings of love, warmth and tenderness. “Snow Globe” is another favorite and was also released as a single. The beautiful melody seems to be telling a story - undoubtedly the one depicted in the snow globe. “Adrift” gently expresses the feeling of floating along with no direction or intention, completely relaxed - like floating on a cloud. “Safe Haven” features another one of my favorite guitarists, Shambhu. Piano, acoustic guitar and electric guitar blend to create a piece that approaches smooth jazz, but goes beyond that into a genre of its own - nice! “Take Some Time” is a bittersweet song with lyrics written and sung by Teghan Devon. More orchestrated than the other tracks, it’s a nice move into a new direction! “River Story” brings the album to a close with a gorgeous acoustic guitar solo that is dreamy and wistful.
I have to agree with Will Ackerman when he said that “Matteo Palmer is the real deal” and I look forward to many more years of great music from him! The Minstrel’s Return is available from Amazon and iTunes/Apple Music as well as Spotify and Google Play.
June 2, 2020