How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This record certainly does not feel like guitarist Harley Card's debut CD. It jumps at you much like the fifth or sixth record! This suggests a high degree of polish and maturity not just in technique, but also in the dynamics of Card's approach to the guitar, the individuality of his voice, the complex beauty and daring of the compositions. It is also a slick production, but if you think this is a calculated effort, perish the thought. Card knows exactly what he wants his music to be and sets about with confidence to achieve it. For starters he is acutely aware that he comes from a long line of quite-brilliant Canadian guitaristsfrom Ed Bickert and Lorne Lofsky, Reg Schwager and Andrew Scott... and there is also the fact that Card has a world-view that we get to glimpse with eight fine compositions.
Card's musical sensibility is fully formed and urbane. His writing reflects a sense of history and is therefore worldly wise. This is probably why he can, at times, be daring in the rhythmic and harmonic invention of his compositions. His writing can also be graphic and narrative where he allows the musical idea to develop. Also idioms and genres blend mellifluously in his workthat he can pluck our of an acoustic guitarin darting single-note runs as in "Ghosts" as well as block chords as in the back end of "Albany." Another feature of the recording is the way Card plays off his cohorts on the date. Mostly it is pianist, Matt Newton, who appears toin his own spare styleidentify the core idea of the song and embellish it by exploring each in exactly the right direction of its development. Newton has a beautiful, spare style, using the space between the sounds of notes to provide new ideas for the song's direction. The pianist is also consummate listener, which accounts for the almost symbiotic relationship with Card. Having said that, Card also provides ample room for bassist Jon Maharaj and the superb percussionist Ethan Ardelli to add a fine harmonic and rhythmic dimension to the music.
The songs are fully formed in themselves. The titles are cryptic. This allows the composer to almost only suggest or hint what is to follow as you wait for the song to start. It also allows for the musicians to use their instruments to evoke visually or as a narrativesometimes boththe direction of the musical expedition, so that the listener is transported to a place where it all comes together in a definitive way. Whether it is the more familiar topography of a song entitled "Albany" or the Zen-like spiritualism of "Samadhi..." with its probing lines and harmonic and percussive explorations from Maharaj and Ardelli respectively, pursuing the darting of the soul! This is very evocative music indeed! The title track is based on a few changes played, like chess-pieces, in a series of seemingly random sequences, until the taut melody is almost wailed out by Card. Maharaj in a rare solo is most imaginative... Card is a guitarist you want to watch for in future!