Guitar slinger from ASIA pays homage to old masters with a new spin and strum.
As much as “Gravitas” – this young artist’s first album with a supergroup he’s been part of since 2013 – was a showcase for Sam Coulson’s talents, its song-oriented nature didn’t shed a lot of spotlight on guitar. That’s possibly why Sam’s solo debut focuses on romantic pieces from a different era, or eras, spanning a few centuries and the globe and venturing beyond obvious.
There’s no heroic stunts, even on “Moonlight Sonata Blues” where Beethoven’s melody is married to a Mississippi twang, and while Coulson’s technique is impeccable it’s emotions that drive his reading of such popular numbers as Petzold’s Minuet in G major – traditionally attributed to Bach here – and Gounod’s “Ave Maria” which was actually rooted in the aforementioned German’s oeuvre. Using volume knob to superimpose solemn grandeur over lyrical strum, Sam adds cosmic transcendence to a familiar flow yet, for all his reserve, Fernando Sor’s exercises provide the 28-year-old with much more six-string freedom for an unhurried filigree delivery.
When it comes to a genuine hymnal uplift, Coulson doesn’t shy away from rock balladry, applying it – on the verge of distortion – to Tárrega’s “Recuerdos De La Alhambra” and going for an exquisite lace with Lauro’s “Vals Venezolano No.2” to place this modern opus in the overall classical context. It’s rich but short, as half of the ten pieces clock in under a 2-minute mark, and anonymous composer’s “Romance” may be a perfect summation of this guitarist’s approach to his art. A true master is born.