David Falcone,
Secrets of Sherwood
(County Clare Records, 1997)

David Falcone's Secrets of Sherwood features acoustic guitar fingerstyle music, and mostly original compositions. Unless you have a passion for that kind of music, the initial impulse is to use the CD for background music -- something pleasant and soothing to play behind conversation or to screen out distractions while working.

At first, to the untrained ear, most of the pieces sound the same, one blurring into the next until the gentle but distinctive instrumental interpretation of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which might cause you to look up, as would Falcone's lyrical cover of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages." Something happens after a while, however; you find yourself paying attention more and more as the melodies attain distinct sounds.

The somber opening of the first track, "Road to County Clare" breaks into a merry dance tune with a Celtic flair while "Clown With a Gun" has an urgent edge to it. One of the few vocal tracks, "Met Her," has a minor, blues-tinged sound and seems to flow well from the previous track. Since the liner notes are all but non-existent (and that's all I'll say about them), it's difficult to comprehend the inspiration for "Joy's Jeans" but the exuberance of the music is captivating. "Secrets of Sherwood" has a strong folk flavor and evokes images of adventures in the forest for which it is apparently named. "From Bray to Dublin" also stands out in its incorporation of traditional melodic lines. While these tracks stand out a bit more than the remainder, but overall, the sound is contemplative and soothing.

Falcone's performance on the album is clean, clear and expressive, with subtle tones. There's a little more than an hour's worth of music on the CD, and it certainly adds an undercurrent of richness to whatever else you're doing while you're listening to it. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself working or talking less and listening more.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

Visit David Falcone's Web site