Cherry Red 2021
Uncovering many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, legends of British rock concentrate on tone to stress the beauty of a tune.
Gordon Giltrap and Paul Brett are well-known for their electric flurries yet famous for acoustic sound, the former delivering it on 6-string and the latter on 12-string instruments. Both veterans are also endorsees of the Vintage® brand for which they designed series of signature guitars. One of them, named “The Raven” after Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, Paul, the model’s mastermind, and Gordon demonstrate here, on their joint album where these artists recorded anew a few of their pieces, including selections from Giltrap’s "The Last Of England" and Brett’s "The Raven" as well as a couple of fresh tracks.
Displaying their numbers, Gordon’s instrumentals and Paul’s songs, in turn, the longtime friends create an engrossing flow that, despite its pseudo-homespun, unplugged sonics, doesn’t take long to burst from stern monochrome into bright colors. There may be baroque grandeur in Giltrap’s “The Kissing Gate” which unfolds this romantic tapestry, and gothic horror in Brett’s “The Pit And The Pendulum” which is understandably wordy, if ever-poetic, but the wonder of their filigree feels nigh on blinding, the listener’s inner sight saved by deliberate patina smeared over these deceptively simple motifs, rendering the results timeless. In the absence of interplay, with every ballad a solo performance, the melodies’ logical pairings – like “The Blues” from Paul and “Down The River” from Gordon, a brace of variously vigorous aural paintings – emphasize the album’s inherent unity. Not for nothing the guitarists avoid such seemingly obvious moves as laying down two cuts titled “Spring” from each of the masters’ lore, offering only the serene tune from the former, while “Shining Morn” and “Pofacetilly” from the latter propose a truly bucolic, albeit very tangible, setting.
Shattering the idyll will be Brett’s “The Raven” whose nervous flutter is profoundly riveting, whereas his “Study To be Quiet” is airily intense, yet the lace of Giltrap’s “Loren” and “Diadem” have the same ethereal quality to them. Still, the epic finale, “The Fox’s Prophecy” courtesy of Paul, stresses the folk-based depth of “Reflections” as a whole: this record is much more than a mere showcase of music tools – it’s a small, chamber-sized sensation.