When the Sea Lets Go
2017 / Vin Downes
Review by Kathy Parsons
When the Sea Lets Go is the fourth album from guitarist/composer Vin Downes. Eight of the ten tracks are solo acoustic guitar; one features Tom Eaton on piano, and one features Michael Manring on bass. This is the second of Downes’ albums that has been produced by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios; Eaton also recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. Downes’ hypnotic music gently soothes and relaxes with the peaceful ebb and flow of ocean waves. Nuance and subtlety are very much a part of his playing style, proving once again that “less is more.” His masterful guitar playing and composing come from the heart and express far more than words can ever say.
Downes began studying the guitar at the age of eleven, later earning a degree in classical guitar performance and music education from William Paterson University. While in college, he studied classical composition and had several of his compositions performed by soloists and ensembles. Downes has recorded and performed with a variety of musicians and is a public school teacher in New Jersey, teaching classical guitar at Bayonne High School.
When the Sea Lets Go begins with “Entwined and Lost,” an enchanting piece that is wistful and dreamy while demonstrating the exquisite beauty of solo acoustic guitar and Vin Downes’ soulful playing. “Evening in Berkeley” continues in quiet tones, describing a peaceful, blissful side of Berkeley I don’t think I’ve ever experienced (but would like to!). “Morning Red” ups the tempo a bit, expressing the anticipation and promise of a new day. “Dust and Drag” features legendary bassist Michael Manring, who adds his own special magic to this lovely piece. “Just Before You Go” is a favorite. Warm, melodic, and more than a little poignant, the emotions expressed are honest and heartfelt. “Everything Ahead” is a bit livelier, conveying a sense of optimism for the future. The title track is another favorite. Smooth and graceful, it reminds me of the mesmerizing effect of watching a sunset over a calm ocean. “Streets of Sunday” is mostly solo guitar, but Tom Eaton adds some piano near the end. Lazy and contented, it’s a reminder of what Sundays should feel like! “All You Left Behind” brings the album to a close, expressing deep emotion that really touches the heart. Beautifully melancholy and very sincere, this is my favorite piece on the album.
When the Sea Lets Go is outstanding from the first note to the last. If you like solo acoustic guitar, this album is an absolute must! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
January 3, 2017