Over Christmas it struck me that I haven't seen any mention here of Gordon's latest album release, a fine collaboration with another fine artist... No, not Ravens And Lullabies, rather the Vintage Guitars promo CD "The Travellers". Intrigued by the CD, basically a promotional showcase for Vintage's new Viator travel guitar, I emailed Vintage to see if I could purchase a copy. The were kind enough to send me a free copy - for which a thousand thanks.
Rather than being a true collaboration the CD gathers together six songs each by Gordon and Paul Brett (who incidentally designed the Viator guitar) with each performer taking turns to offer up a tune. I had never heard Paul Brett's playing before, being more familiar with him as a journalist,a writer, a guitar collector and vintage (small "v") guitar expert. However, I have to say I am impressed. His playing style is more ragtime and western influenced than Gordon's quintessential Englishness but each of his tunes is intricate, lyrical and enjoyable. his style sometimes reminds me of a less twiddly version of what Steve Howe produces when released from the prog confines of Yes and allowed to stretch out acoustically. Of his six tunes, Brett provides one vocal track, The Passionate Shepherd, and while his singing won't be giving Steve Winwood or Michael McDonald any sleepless nights it fits the raw folky style of the song nicely.
Given the deliberately diminutive size of the Viator and the fact that it has allowed Gordon's Armstrong Baby Guitar to slip off into a well deserved retirement, it is hardly surprising that Gordon's tunes concentrate on his Baby Guitar repertoire. The CD kicks off with the pretty tune The Picnic, originally written by Gordon as incidental music for Sir Riff Pilchard's Heathcliffe musical. Other tracks include Fiona's Smile, Mrs Singer's Waltz and (a personal Giltrap favourite) The Lord's Seat. On each track Gordon's playing is immaculate with the guitar presented raw with only a touch of reverb to soften the sound. And I must say that, especially given its cheap as chips (in guitar terms) price, the Vintage gives Gordon's Armstrong a good run for its money. Sure, perhaps listening to the hand built original you can hear a little edge of tonal quality in the sound but it is in the realm of subtle nuance not anything fundamental. Once again Vintage have clearly defied sense,logic and expectation in producing a guitar that sounds way better than any two hundred quid Chinese factory-built guitar is supposed to... Nice one.
However, two highlights of the CD are a stripped down version of Anyone Can Fly from Ravens And Lullabies and a chance to finally own Gordon's lyrical, poignant and moving Loren. It is clear to hear the love and affection poured into the writing and performance of that tune and so wonderful to have a beautiful recording of it on CD at last.
This is the place to post items relating to Gordon and his music in a general sense, such as his influences, how he composes, which pieces you enjoy most and why etc.
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