A man and his guitar. If one were to summarize the theme of this delicately crafted instrumental album, those would be the only words necessary. After all, nothing is spoken between Pacific Northwest musician John Williams (not to be confused with the legendary film composer) and his guitar. However, there are emotions expressed between them, an intimate conversation that is expressed with each warm pluck of the string. This is a record that can be savored in two different ways. Artists will be able to relate to the wordless give and take between Williams and his instrument. Williams has presented to the public what is often hidden from public view — a private, often introspective session between a man and his guitar. Williams plays the guitar without any acknowledgment of the outside world; he is baring his soul, letting his feelings guide his hands, oblivious to time. Aside from the propulsive riffs of the first track “Strait,” there are no easy, repetitive hooks on this album; it exists as a mood piece, one that should be experienced from beginning to end. In that regard, fellow guitarists will find much to relate to as Williams captures their own personal moments with the guitar, alone and away from the pummeling noise of everyday life.
On the other hand, for non-musicians Williams’s work here can be appreciated as a therapy piece or as a soundtrack to the tranquility of outdoor living. The lush playing on “Brown Island” and “Shaw Island” is hypnotic and soothing. Williams is reaching into the deepest recesses of the heart, conveying not just love but a sense of inner peace. To call this New Age might seem inaccurate because of how that genre is normally viewed as cold and soulless. Nevertheless, Williams’s compositions create that level of relaxed spirit that they are supposed to achieve.
That Williams is based in Washington State is no surprise. The overcast shades of “Wasp Passage” reflect the state’s rainy clouds, and images of the ocean and water in general are what the imagination consistently triggers as the record unfolds. The meditative “Speiden” is among the highlights contained within, a relatively long, epic journey that is awash in various shifts of tone. Williams describes this music as “Quiet Guitar,” but there’s no denying the weight of emotions that is carried by this fragile beauty.
John Williams: www.acousticcountryblues.com