Viral Discs 2017
Unraveling mysteries, legendary English luthier inhabits the world of the greatest American writer and comes out alive.
The legacy of Edgar Allan Poe so easily lends itself to flights of fantasy that it’s easy to forget how grounded it was in particular period. Paul Brett remembers, though, because, before his 70th birthday, the great guitarist took a look at the dark unfathomed tide of mortality and eternal romance, and came up with this record. With the album which is unusual and, still, so typical for the veteran’s method.
Brett’s performances on these pieces are stark and sinister, stripped to sheer terror essentials, where passion is stored in Paul’s pipes rather than his strum that returns Poe’s poetry to bleak salons of the past in the ballad manner those stanzas could be originally delivered in if they were sung, not read. Such a chamber approach conveys the very spirit of the title track and elevates the prose – which are turned into epic, inspired verses on “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Oval Portrait” – to a new, spectral yet soulful, level.
The artist took some liberty to bend lines here and there to make it all perfectly suit the song structure, but even the unchanged passages embrace the folklore flow he’s giving the likes of “The Bride” in the most impressive way. With “Evening Star” marrying romance to cosmic consciousness of the future and “Imitation” shaped as hymn, it’s inescapably “El Dorado” that displays Paul’s vigor and adventurousness in the weave of vocals and strings – the 6 and 12 strings of Brett’s signature vintage guitars. There’s no flash on the album, only literary foray into music, or vice versa: this is why it’s so possessed with the specters of fatal fantasy – and this is why its author was inspired to design a vintage guitar called… The Raven.