Guitarist Julian Lage's chameleon-like abilities have covered many styles from jazz in ensembles with vibraphonist Gary Burton and drummer Eric Harland to avant-free expressions with guitarist Nels Cline in Room (Mack Avenue, 2014) and folksy bluegrass with Punch Brother's member Chris Eldridge in Avalon (Modern Lore, 2014). A phenomenal technician Lage is more importantly a player with pronounced tonality and delicate touch who exudes a plethora of moods from his instrument as displayed with his first solo release World's Fair. It's the perfect showcase of his fine abilities on acoustic guitar.
A sense of warm intimacy begins a set of originals with the track "40's" a tune that exudes expressiveness in its lyrical qualities. Vigorous chord structures juxtaposed with gossamer laced notes that are slightly nostalgic lie at the heart of "Japan." Yet true to Lage's inquisitive nature there's plenty of diversity with melodious adventurism in "Peru" fueled by Lage's quicksilver picking; blues bending plucks in "Ryland" and neoclassical persuasions in the dramatic yet lovely "Century."
Each track displays moments of nuance and virtuosity. The barn burner "Gardens" is an intense and roller-coaster thrill ride with a feverish tempo and dynamic changes. Whereas the cover of the iconic 1937 show tune "Where or When" lingers like a comfortable memory. Much could be spoken of Lage's technical prowess and facility which are in full aplomb but his ultimate gift might lie at how he harnesses these skills with emotion and empathy in this splendid release.
40's; Peru; Japan; Ryland; Double Stops; Gardens; Century; Where or When; Missouri; Red Prarie Dawn; Day and Age; Lullaby.
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