Al Petteway,
The Waters & the Wild
(Maggie's Music, 1993)

Inspired by the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay area, Al Petteway infuses his guitar melodies with a vibrancy that brings to mind exactly what he intends: The Waters & the Wild. Capturing the varying moods of nature, the music evokes images of the great outdoors that city dwellers rarely get to see. Visions of forests, waterfalls, lakes, streams and wildlife will dance in your head when you listen to this album.

Petteway's talent on the guitar is only rivaled by his amazing ability to capture in song his surroundings. With pieces ranging from Celtic-inspired to bluesy and with a variety of backing musicians providing a nice contrast to the solo pieces, the album covers a lot of ground. The rollicking "Chesapeake" demonstrates the talents of many additional players to create a fun, danceable tune, featuring the whistle and cello. The lovely "Silver Branch" begins slowly before shifting to a bodhran solo. The solo guitar tracks are very gentle and sound very personal. It is as if Petteway has led us to his favorite place along a lake or a secret glade and is letting us into his private hideaway. "Shadyside Blues" is probably my least favorite track, as the blues style of playing is so different it doesn't really seem to fit in with the others.

A handy-dandy feature (that took me a minute to figure out) is the inclusion of the guitar tunings and capo placement for each tune. The sleeve notes also briefly describe the specific area that inspired the piece, which adds another dimension to the visual images created.

Petteway's guitar playing was recorded live with no overdubbing. This makes the album even more remarkable given the complexity and grace the music contains.

This is a beautiful instrumental album. It is relaxing and evocative. It really is like nature on CD. Petteway's abilities both as a composer and a musician make this a very worthwhile investment.

- Rambles
written by Jean Emma Price
published 16 July 2005

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