While His Guitar Gently Weeps

on September 24, 2014
9.3

We often take the guitar for granted. What an unusual statement. We do however forget the full extent of its prowess to pull at our heartstrings and even in its simplest form to fill a hall and carry all parts of the music.

Modern guitarists could be accused of being manipulators of electricity with an over reliance on sound processing with innovation in music often dependent on innovation in technology. In truth, there is enough in the simple six string acoustic guitar to create music that is evocative, emotional and emollient.

And so to Scott Hunter who is a master of weaving music of power and substance on one guitar that would many fail to accomplish with a full ensemble. Scott lives and breathes music and has done for over fifty years – he doesn’t sing. This is important as his formative influences are found in the vocal protest song of Dylan, Baez et al. I can relate to that. When you don’t sing your forced to do it with the instrument you can play. Hunter sings through the guitar.

His Soundcloud page is an embarrassment of instrumental guitar riches that traverses breadth of America with pieces that could have been written in San Francisco reflecting on fruitless wars and folk laments that could have tell stories of love unrequited in the Appalachian Mountains. Much of what the USA is can be heard in his pieces.

Scott has collected his best works but I’d like to explore a few nuggets I found worthy of mention –

The Back Streets If Old Juarez

This was a personal favourite and one of an older set of pieces. It’s not as lushly recorded as Scott’s latter pieces but it has an immediacy that I found charmingly endearing. It paints pictures of cowboys and frontiersmen trading licks with Mexicans. The playing is simple by Scott’s standards but the overall effect is to put you in that campfire surround. An anglo-hispanic dialogue in the desert.

Sailor’s Grave On The Prairie

This intriguingly titled cover is fully in keeping with the theme of immediacy through spartan production and seems to carry a level of tonal richness above the original. The use of a brass slide on relatively heavy strings is lush and sweet sounding. For guitarists reading this – forget what you’ve read – brass slides when you’re working unplugged, glass when you’re wailing on an electric – the brass gives your tone soul. This track is the proof.

Carolina Three Way

A really fun rag, one hopes that this is transcribed as it’s the type of tune every guitarist should have in their repertoire.

His Best So Far

This is Scot’s own selection of the best his oeuvre. Skyline opens and frames the essence of his playing. The technique exhibited on this piece is refreshing. Every note clear and clean and the dynamic carefully controlled. Some of the tracks I’ve already mentioned are in there and they all sit well together.

Interestingly there is an experiment in signal processing, E-Type Zig Zag. It’s an interesting juxtaposition combining such rootsy technique with stereo delays and modulation. To my ears I appreciate Scott’s innovation but this reviewer feels that with a guitar that sounds this sweet and complete in and of itself that such audio tricks are unnecessary.

Concluding in Carolina

If you need to take a journey without moving put on this playlist. It’ll move your mind across the continental USA in 25 minutes. You don’t need to be a guitarist nor an American, all you need to enjoy the journey are your ears, Hunter’s Americana coach will do the rest.

The Breakdown

Power To Move
9
Apallachian Authenticity
10
Technical Prowess
9