Friday, November 9, 2012

#111: Bert Jansch - Bert Jansch (1965)

Bert Jansch is a Scottish folk musician who was also a founding member of the band Pentangle. He was a part of the British folk revival in the 1960's and received two BBC Lifetime Achievement Awards (one for his solo work and one for Pentangle).

Smokey River
It's the first instrumental track on the record and the guitar picking is absolutely exquisite. At times it sounds like an army of guitarist coming toward the listener and it's hard to imagine all of it coming from one guitar. I also enjoyed the way the guitar was recorded - you can hear all of the little details in the room as well as Jansch's breathing.

Needle of Death
Throughout the album the guitar picking is top notch. As for the compositions and the vocals - not so much. It's not that either of these are bad by any stretch but the guitar clearly carries the album. I'd love to be able to play like this, however, the entire album tends to drone on a little for me, it's all extremely similar. While there may be some variations between songs, its just picking and vocals - or just picking. It's incredibly well done but there's just not enough variation for me.

Alice's Wonderland
The guitar changes have so much life in them. The song may be short but it surely doesn't overstay it's welcome. It's incredibly well written, fun to listen to, and it's the best track on the album. I found throughout the album, I enjoyed the instrumentals more than the tracks with vocals. Only because the guitar was more interesting and was better sculpted. The tracks with vocals required the guitar be tame leaving room for the lyrics and melody.

All in all, it's very well done - it's just not my thing. I can truly appreciate just how amazing the guitar picking is, but the other components of the music fail to intrigue me. I had no desire to listen to the lyrics or the melody, they didn't feel dynamic enough. However, when I purchase an acoustic guitar I'll sit down with a few of Jansch's instrumental tunes and give them a whirl - some of them are too good not to.

Tomorrow's album: The Head and the Heart's The Head and the Heart.

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