Minor 7th: Acoustic Guitar Music Reviews, September-October 2007
Brilliance isn't a word that should be thrown around very often in the arts. There are so many good, yea, so many great artists that brilliance is the realm of few artists in any genre. It's a place populated by those few who have risen to a place where their stamp is immediately felt. With the proliferation of acoustic guitar music over the past decade, the sheer volume of excellent work is daunting. But steel string wizard Robin Bullock's latest offering, "Rosewood Castle", is, well, simply brilliant -- a disc filled with fully-realized melodies played with nuance and grace. Many guitarists leave the melody stripped to its bare essentials, but Bullock is able to craft arrangements of traditional Celtic songs pregnant with everything the melody can be. This CD brings some of the genre's best and brightest alongside Bullock in some wonderful duets: the gentle "Raglan Road" with Alex DeGrassi; the well-known Irish waltz "The Southwind" with Al Petteway; an absolutely blistering, toe-tapping, dance-inducing flatpicking medley "The Savage Wee Beastie / The Limerick Lasses / The Bird in the Bush" with John Doyle; a varied "Breton-Asturias Set" with Tony McManus on guitar and Robin playing cittern; and a lush version of "Down by the Salley Gardens", the poem by William Yeats, played in tandem with Steve Baughman. The solo pieces that round out the remainder of the CD are played with style and skill -- always enough and never too much playing, so the listener is served. In reviewing some CD's, I can tire of hearing the same songs played through many repetitions; with "Rosewood Castle", I found myself happily hitting the play button once the disc's lovely concluding track, "Rebecca's Hymn", had delighted me with its closing notes.