Daryl Shawn,
In Place
(independent, 2012)

Daryl Shawn plays solo instrumentals on the classical guitar. No band, no lyrics, no percussion -- just Shawn and six nylon strings. He's not even playing the classical repertoire. No, he's playing tunes he wrote himself, stuff that relies on repetition, intricate fingerpicking, occasional flamenco riffs -- for God's sake, he's playing modern music.

The situation sounds ripe for disaster. After all, can a person make a single classical guitar sound compelling for an entire album if he's not playing classical music? In Daryl Shawn's case, the answer is definitely yes. "If You Won't Wait" is a flamenco-centered piece that is defined by sharp, almost angry flamenco strumming that builds to a finale of handtapping percussion. The song is followed by "Elementary," which has a steady, simply -- yes, elementary -- rhythm riff, which anchors some fingerpicking up and down the neck. It's as far from flamenco as you can get and leads to an uptempo, fingerpicking piece built on repetition called "Over & Over Again."

Shawn, a graduate of Berkelee College of Music in Boston, walked away from a career in a band to spend five years in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he woodshedded, writing and playing solo instrumental songs. Those years certainly taught him what he was doing and he certainly does it well.

If you're into solo guitar instrumentals, you'll feel rewarded by this one.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

16 February 2013

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