Vicki Genfan,
Up Close & Personal
(Harmonic Touch, 2006)

Vicki Genfan says she went into the studio expecting to be finished with this project in about 11 days. It took three years. Over the course of the recording, she wrote new tunes, brought in new musicians and a new producer, and wound up with a two-record set, one consisting of guitar instrumentals, the other a singer-songwriter package. So, instead of the 11 songs she intended to capture on disc, we now have 21.

So, what is the result of the time, energy and money spent on Up Close & Personal? Let's take it disc by disc.

On the instrumental set, we find a guitarist who seems to have resolved never to play in standard tuning. Each track is in a different tuning, and each tuning brings its own colorings and shadings to the music. Genfan uses slapping and tapping techniques, adapting a Van Halenesque metal edge to the acoustic guitar; notes shimmer and glide eerily, almost magically and the tunes swirl in the air like bubbles in a cold draft beer. It's beautiful, wonderful stuff that any listener will be fascinated by and any guitarist will be scratching his head at, asking himself, as I did, "How does she do that?"

The singer-songwriter disc is not as strong. The playing is supplemented by a full band on most tracks, so Genfan's playing, surrounded as it is by other instruments, is not as prominent. She sings well and has a way with a lyric, but the record just isn't as strong as the instrumental one.

Genfan says she worried about which music the audience would prefer and finally decided to release it all so that we get to choose. With this double CD, she says, we listeners can pick our favorites from each disc and make yet another collection on our iPods.

An excellent idea.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

14 June 2008

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