While it can be easier to tell a story through lyrics, words often fall short of the feelings and emotional journey which an artist is choosing to convey. Guitarist Julien Kasper brought together an assemblage of like-minded musicians in order to present seven of his original compositions. At the risk of redundancy the material is indeed original. The compositions are a portrait of a man's soul, captured organically with sentiment, heart, and the benefit of life experiences.
Kasper's nuanced guitar riffs are perhaps best described as blues. However there is more at play here, much more. It is the kind of instrumental bliss that draws inspiration from the deep well of influences which now have over one hundred years of contribution. That could be either daunting or a kid at the candy store. For Kasper, it would seem to have been neither. The rich tonality of his guitar provides a clear storytelling voice as well as often unexpected yet dynamically placed changes. There are plenty of influences, but they would all seem to have long since been well ingrained into what has become his own substantial sound.
The rhythm section, with which he so deftly interacts, comprises bassist Jesse Wiliams and drummer Zac Casher. Within a melting pot of different melodies and tonalities, they were little concerned with pop, sizzle, or spotlight. Instead, they are to be commended for their pocket grooves and their unwavering timing in assisting Kasper to bring these songs and stories to light. Matt Jensen adds a welcoming solo on his Hammond B-3 to the record's first track, entitled "The Wolf." Later pianist Daniela Schachter brings a luxurious layer to "The Big Dismal."
Kasper, a guitar instructor at Berklee College of Music, has successfully bridged divergent musical concepts. The accomplishment would seem to be founded on his innate grasp of music ideology. His soulful expressionism brings a fiery edge to the mix. Multiple listens reveal that every note has a purpose and every change furthers the storytelling mastery. There are no shredding or lightning rounds to be found. Instead there is the product of a musician who respects and cherishes his instrument with melodies and the purity of harmonic structure. While every song is well crafted, the sophisticated changes and overall gravity of a tune called "Chazzskinnabaal," is worth the price of admission alone.
The Wolf; An Upraised Hand; Oceanides; Chazzskinnabaal; Big Dismal; King Cake; Upon a Green Hill.
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