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Glenn Jones, "Against Which the Sea Continually Beats"

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Bostonian Glenn Jones isn't only one of the greatest modern acoustic guitar players of our time, but he's also one of the most genuine and open human beings who happens to be a musician. This release is a testament to both of these claims—and then some—with 11 fantastic and personal solo guitar pieces accompanied by an excellent booklet detailing stories behind each of the songs and even his own contact information!

 

Strange Attractors Audio House

The album, only his second full-length solo guitar release, contains a lot of songs dear to Glenn, some of them detailing his formative years, close friends, and the places he has lived. It is bookended with two short songs named "Island," a sliding bluesy tribute to the island of Martha's Vineyard: a place that is slightly remote but has a growing amount of support for guitarists like Jones.  Aboveground Records and Anthony Esposito have made efforts to get people like him, Harris Newman, Jack Rose, and James Blackshaw (just to name a few) out to the island to perform and record with some great results. Against Which the Sea Continually Beats was recorded out there with Esposito, a man who Jones praises for his ability to appropriately mic a solo guitarist: a duty that can often have some horrible results when done poorly by the average house-sound people.

Although Glenn is generous with sharing his techniques, tunings, and secrets, his playing isn't something with which only guitar nerds can connect. While the first meaty song, "David and the Phoenix," (inspired by the book of the same name) is vibrant and vigorous, when a song like "Cady" comes on, it's almost as if there's a direct connection from his heart to the instrument, passing the song through in a way that Glenn can communicate the best. It's no surprise to find when reading along that it's "affectionately dedicated" to his niece.

If John Fahey doesn't come to mind when listening to the music then just the title of "The Teething Necklace (For John Fahey)" should be indication enough of his influence. What might not be widely known is that Jones knew Fahey personally since the late 1970s and recorded with him in the 1990s with his band, Cul de Sac. Jones has spent most of his time with Cul de Sac over the last 15 years and "The Teething Necklace" was Jones re-introduction to playing acoustic guitar. He was working on it in 2001 when Fahey died, ironically enough. Only now has he felt comfortable completing and releasing a recording of it and at an epic ten and a half minutes, it's probably the album's strongest and most memorable piece. It feels appropriate for a song about Fahey's passing: a somber opening spends time mourning the passing but eventually gives way to fond memories, marked by playing that is as spritely as Fahey's imaginative and pastoral playing.

Another song about a passing of a friend is "Heartbreak Hill," something Boston residents will recognize as that point in the Boston Marathon near the end where going any further can absolutely destroy the runners. It's dedicated to a friend and fellow guitar player who worked with Glenn for over 20 years at the same company. The short story in the booklet about Steve is touching, as Glenn, who's clearly a big hearted guy, describes his friend Steve as one of the biggest-hearted people. Steve's ashes were scattered on Heartbreak Hill and the song is another fitting tribute. Not only is it captivating beyond words, but it has a very notable pulse like a long distance runner's steady pace.

Those who have followed my recommendation for Imaginational Anthem will find a lot to love with a full album of Glenn Jones' material if they don't have any already. Glenn is currently recording more material (in Philly with Jack Rose!!!) and will be on the road this year with another great guitarist and Strange Attractors label-mate, Steffen Basho-Jughans, for those who aren't fortunate enough to live here in Boston and be able to see him live occasionally.

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Last Updated on Monday, 19 February 2007 18:02  


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