June 18, 2009

Ben Reynolds - How Day Earnt Its Night

Ben Reynolds tries to be everything to modern finger picking on his latest release. In some ways it is successful in that he takes on several of the common niches within the current genre. On the other hand, you may feel that just as you were getting into one feel, he is headed off into another direction.
The CD kicks off with a couple pretty straightforward tunes. Skylark (Scorner of the Ground!) is a Scottish-tinged, melodic piece. Up next is the surprisingly upbeat (for the title), Death Sings. I would say this is a very nice Takoma style piece. Good stuff, very melodic with Reynolds staying clear of the field of dissonance.
But not for long…Next up is The Virgin Knows. A little bit more than a hint of Eastern/Raga comparable to a Jack Rose long rambling piece, though he never gets as weird as the weirdest Rose. The piece is sort of flirting with the Eastern melody while thumbing in the West. Interesting combination.
Risen reminds me of the Hymns that Fahey used to put at the end of his albums. Though this one isn’t at the end nor does it make you feel like “the end” is near. While Fahey went for the gloom, Reynolds chooses to skip the gloom while maintaining the stately feel that Fahey was so good at projecting.
In the middle of it all is the nearly 13 minute title piece, How Day Earnt its Night. Though it took me a listen or two to warm up to this one, I would say this is a very successful attempt at the long form style that Blackshaw et al have made their careers on. Reynolds guides us through three sections of the song, transitioning to each in simple and effective ways.
I can hear a nod to his fellow country men in the picking of many of these tunes, the opener and again in England and Kirstie it is noticeable.
And then we have what may be the aptly titled, All Gone Wrong Blues. I’m not too sure about this one, but I must disclose that I’m not a big fan of the harp unless it’s played through an overdriven amp on the South side of Chicago. So let’s just leave it at that.
Clocking in at 42 minutes is a bit disappointing. These days I like to see us get at least 50 minutes for our $12-15.
I’m always interested in info about the tune, inspiration, the guitar used to record it. This is a very simple packaging offering none of that. I suppose sometimes artists like to keep that to themselves, or perhaps it adds to the mystery of the music and therefore the interpretive experience by the listener.
Head over to his MySpace album page where you can hear nearly every tune before you buy.

Make sure you head over to Tompkins Square and browse the other excellent offerings. Tompkins has James Blackshaw's early releases, Max Ochs, Peter Walker and of course the Imaginational Anthem series.
BUY Ben Reynolds from EMUSIC icon

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