The third album in guitarist Scott DuBois' survey of the seasons is a story of both inverse relationships and connected themes. Composed in a frigid Chicago winter, the album speaks of summer's warmth; shaped by symphonic inspirations and aspirations, the music surprisingly cuts the other way in featuring solo guitar without overdubs; and bent on creating a fluid context where river meets sea, the program offers a mirrored outlook that meets at the middle ("Storm Where The River Meets The Sea") and gifts the listener the opportunity to travel from either end of the running order. As with DuBois' first two entries in this seriesthe quartet-based Winter Light (ACT, 2016) and that ensemble's chamber-adorned Autumn Wind (ACT, 2017)this record scales an incredibly high bar in terms of calculation and creative scope.
Bookending the program with "Into River Fog" and "Into Sea Fog," DuBois uses frets to conjure frets as mists roll across separate waterways. Those beautifully light hazes, moving inward, lead to "River Otters" and "Sea Otters." These animals, spied in beautiful brumes, appear as shadowy wonders wrapped in nature's bounty. From there, as the album continues to close in toward its center, there's floating "River Driftwood" and "Sea Driftwood"; effulgent tides and emphatic strums shining down as "Summer Light on Rushing River" and "Summer Light on Billowing Sea"; and a sense of mystery, heralding the downpour at the heart of the album, with "River Before the Storm" and "Sea Before the Storm."
The central "Storm Where the River Meets the Sea" ties everything together, and it does so, wisely, without overplaying its hand. More a quick, passing cloudburst than a raging tempest, it acts as a key point of convergence for this brilliant bi-directional statement. While whittling down the instrumentation for his latest seasonal story, DuBois has lost nothing in terms of power and narrative expression. Summer Water, as with the preceding autumnal and wintry wonders, earns incredibly high marks. Now we simply wait for spring.
Into River Fog; River Otters; River Driftwood; Summer Light on Rushing River; Rover Before the Storm; Stoem Where the River Meets the Sea; Sea Before the Storm; Summer Light on BIllowing Sea; Sea Driftwood; Sea Otters; Into Sea Fog.
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