Sean Smith - Eternal
An awaited follow-up to 2006's "Sacred Crag Dancer, Corpse Whisperer," "Eternal" is a satisfying new set from adventurous guitarist Sean Smith. His blend of freak folk, psych and traditional with the occasional electric outburst, gives his music a meditative yet dark vibe. If there are spiritual answers to be found, his music says, it's gonna cost you to find them.
"Palak Paneer" is hypnotic, communal, and inviting; the hand-clapping also treats to the listener to the idea of an audience, the solo guitarist for once not alone. Mandolin toward the end makes for even more gorgeous colors. The slightly Carnatic "Goat Seer" has a mournful, somber drone, a sluggish slide line keeping the emotion down to a sad shuffle. A finale with more tempo improves the mood somewhat.
In a more biting vein, on "The Real," guitar, strings and banjo compete and perpetuate a slow dirge that becomes wobbly and almost atonal by the end. Holly" begins as another laconic drone, with the haunting violin more pronounced, before the song unexpectedly introduces a fuzz-toned, feed-backed burst of electric guitar rage, then fades out as it began. This is clearly the most emotionally personal track on the set.
The finale of this seven-song gem is the almost thirteen minute "Greetings Death Love." With all time devoted to such simple, delicate melody, you would think that the motif might tire halfway along. But it doesn't; the hypnotic, moving line never wavers in its quiet power. Easily one of the greatest long acoustic instrumentals I've ever heard.
"Eternal" manages to be haunting and hopeful. Sean Smith's virtuosity is stunning, but this is no outing for guitar-heads only. His deep and emotional melodies, his risk taking, are the real meat here.
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