Thursday, May 16, 2013

Music That Leaves Marks - 1305

It's been almost 30 years since I picked up acoustic guitar. I wish I could say I was 30 years skilled, but I'm not and that's a different story. At the time I was a fan of general rock music, but in college I was introduced to Eric Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and everything changed in my appreciation of guitar playing. The deep blend of soulful emotion, technical ability, and genre mastery astounded me, even with my very basic level of skill and knowledge.

Johnson's Ah Via Musicom, which came out in 1990, simply blew me away. From the transcendent joy of Cliffs of Dover to the tasteful cool of East Wes, I loved every note and have listened to the album hundreds of times.

Johnson and Vaughan, of course, were not the only guitar players making splashes in the 80s and 90s, but no other contemporaries moved me the same way. There are many I respected, and some who contributed singular pieces that I completely love, but after Stevie was killed and Johnson went into a sort of reclusiveness, I began to despair of finding another blues- and jazz-influenced rock guitarist who could move me the same way. I coped by broadening my appreciation historically and across genres, but longed for the player who could move me physically and emotionally in the same ways.

In 2010 I came across a 2009 release from Andy Timmons, Resolution. A Pandora station (thank you Pandora!) I set up for instrumental guitar played the title track and I was immediately smitten. Since buying the full album, I've played it through more times than I can count. The songs are very original, yet many have clear ties to influences, SRV and EJ included.

The entire record is phenomenal, and several songs will be permanent favorites. For a while, Resolution was the one I'd listen to over and over, but over time I found that the final listed cut was becoming part of my constant mental playlist. The Prayer / The Answer is a fugue of sorts that expresses a single call and single response across a powerful dynamic range. It's emotional power for me is visceral and leaves me speechless at times. Even now I feel unable to describe it, so I'll just let you listen. Here's a live recording that I am very sorry not to have been present for, but fortunately was preserved for us.