Acoustic album’ is Amos Garrett’s first acoustic recording in over twenty-five years.
This is one unplugged effort well worth the wait: a quilt work of time-tested melodies brimming with wry, good-natured lyrics that are as welcoming as an oasis to a parched tongue. With a resume that could fill several pages (Maria Muldaur, Robert Gordon, Doug Sahm, etc), Garrett sounds like he’ returning to his first love though---some old-fashioned finger picking on the six strings. That voice is robust, clear, and playful--with a hint of slyness.
It’s warming that a couple of Hoagy Carmichael durables are featured, including “Small Fry” and “Hong Kong Blues”. Close your eyes and you could envision Hoagy--cigarette dangling from his lips, flagon of Southern Comfort resting nearby. There’s no posturing, just a spontaneous front-porch feel to it all, making it a very serene listen. A posse of collaborators (Chris Whiteley, Ken Whiteley, David Wilkie, et. al) afford a casual ambience to the recording that is quite beckoning, similar to what you’d experience at a levee. The only difference being the level of musicianship, which is strictly world-class, and if you’re into the exquisite joys of deftly managed guitar runs, there are a multitude of such moments to savour.
I was totally captured by “Michigan Water Blues”—a weird but fascinating Blues that Garrett transported note-by-note from Jelly Roll Morton’s piano chart, and adapted to guitar, mandolin, and string bass. Stay alive, and eventually you’ll hear everything! The very talented Whiteley Brothers wrote three of the originals. Ken’s semi-autobiographical “Always Got Your Hands On That Guitar” is especially absorbing, and any guitar fiend will find it to be as familiar as a look in the mirror. Another especially intriguing selection on this 12-track album is “I Hate Myself”--- a perfect anthem for self-loathing neurotics---on which an entire “choir” join in on the fun.
“Beverly Hill Requiem” is a poignant instrumental featuring the multi-talented Chris Whiteley on trumpet. Other titles practically invite you to come on over and sit down for a spell: “Grasshoppers In My Pillow”, “Some Musician Was To Blame”, and “Perfume and Tobacco”. So take up the invitation--why don’t you.