Sunday, April 22, 2012

CD Review - Nick Charles - Return of the Travelling Fingerpicker

Return of the Travelling Fingerpicker
Nick Charles

Review by Clinton White

Catalogue 810 398 2

In a career spanning more than 25 years, roots guitarist, singer and composer, Nick Charles has released a dozen albums and performs over 150 gigs a year in Australia, New Zealand and the US.  His laid-back style of blues, folk and early ragtime acoustic guitar has held unparalleled popularity among a variety of audiences.

His newest album, Return of the Travelling Fingerpicker, offers 13 tracks, of which ten are new Charles originals.  It’s a kind of back-to-the-future approach; something of an extension to Travelling Fingerpicker, also a solo instrumental album, which Charles released in 2004.

Even so, it’s not simply a case of ‘more of the same’.  Charles has further developed his style and technique.  It’s still laid-back and a good Sunday arvo jam kind of approach, but he’s got a fresh take with some great riffs, driving rhythms and imaginative improvs.

There’s a range of music styles, too, from full-on blues, to teary ballads and steel guitar rattles and slides taking you to an old rocking chair on the dusty front porch of some deep-south ranch house in the blistering humidity of summer.  Charles’ arrangement of the two trad folky tunes Greensleeves and Scarborough Fair deftly lulls the listener into a false sense of security, starting off with an introspective what-you’d-expect intro, which soon launches off into a rhythmic bluesy style.

The recording quality is superb, too, with some close and beautifully clear miking, faithfully delivering the full dynamic and sonic range of the instruments.  And it’s all as natural as fresh fruit, too.  No overdubs, enhancements or tricks.

I’ve heard Nick Charles play a few times now.  He’s always entertaining, always enthralling, and always a nice bloke.

Go see him.  He's playing at the Harmonie German Club, Jerrabomberra Ave, Narrabundah, ACT at 3pm on Sunday April 29.  And buy his CDs.

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