Cranktone Entertainment 2021
American guitarist casts a glance over his shoulder to smile at the memories.
Who doesn’t love a good company, especially in times like these? While Carl Verheyen can be perfectly happy in a solo mode, on such albums as "Alone" that see his guitar do all the singing, the “Sundial” suite of songs find the veteran share sonic space with other prominent players – the fellow performers, including members of his touring group, helping him bring to life a succession of genre-straddling ideas which, nevertheless, form a unified musical cycle. Its twists and turns are sometimes unexpected, yet this is what gives it a unique flavor.
There’s an air of concept to the record that starts with a title piece and ends on its “Slight Return” – even though the unaccompanied, acoustically laced, purely instrumental latter holds no voodoo, as opposed to the ensemble-delivered former, where Nick D’Virgilio’s drums and Mitchel Foreman’s ivories flesh out the same melodic core, giving Verheyen voice an elegiac translucence before beats and riffs infuse the flow with playful lightness. There’s also the variety of moods on offer, and the exquisite covers of Elton’s “Michelle’s Song” and THE RASCALS’ “People Got To Be Free” fit nicely into the overall flow, but the captivating, piano-splashed, quoted-strewn urban melancholy of “Garfunkel (It Was All Too Real)” is a part of the picture too, together with “No Time For A Kiss” highlighting Carl’s emotional vocals.
Still, they can’t compete with the excitement of his own “Kaningie” which Chad Wackerman and John Ferraro catch in the Afrobeat-inspired polyrhythmic crossfire until Jim Cox’s Wurlitzer increases the number’s jazz dosage and passes the punch and panache to the funky “Clawhammer Man” – with no banjo in sight so it’s down to six strings to flaunt the track’s titular technique. And though “Never Again” may feel too soft for the truly spiritual blues, the number’s guitar harmonies and heavy Hammond are honeyed enough to move the hardest of hearts, and if the heart’s not melted the majestic wonder of “Spiral Glide” – in turns, crawling, sliding and soaring – will take care of this.
“Sundial” doesn’t have an immediate allure to it, but the album grows on the listener to an extent when it’s impossible not to admire this opus.