Greg Walker,
Straight from the Source 2
(self-produced, 2006)

Beneath the simple yet striking packaging lies a superbly crafted, eminently listenable and thoroughly consistent album, very different in mood from its predecessor, Straight from the Source 1. Derbyshire-based guitarist, composer and programmer Greg Walker has crafted 10 supremely lyrical tunes that make this the consummate second album. His subtle programming paints a vivid musical palette, with many inspired flourishes throughout.

His deft, clean guitar lines (whatever guitar he chooses to play) whisk your mind instantly away to Pat Metheny's breeziest, most light-filled playing -- never more so than on the intriguingly-titled "Two Sugars for Louis," with its lovely harmonica synclavier motif. There are even echoes of Acoustic Alchemy in the pristine "The Other Side Of Here." Pete Mays' contributions on piano are exquisite, and guest flugelhorn/trumpet by Dave Pugh is sublime -- there's no other word for it.

Several tunes epitomise this album's uniqueness for me, however -- real standouts. Perhaps the most striking is "I Should Know By Now," graced by Dave Pugh's exquisite flugelhorn solo, radiating a gorgeous northern English feel, redolent of lazy afternoons in the sun. Bathes you in a warm glow, does this track! Maybe it's the glorious "As Was Wes," with subtle snare drum loop underpinning the gorgeous piano-rich melody. Or perhaps it's the superbly ambient "And the Rain Came," where the mood is languid and more than a tad melancholy -- who cares? They're all delicious!

This album could well prove to be the perfect soundtrack to summer 2006 for lovers of ambient jazz.

by Debbie Koritsas
29 April 2006

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