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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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By Adam Werner
Label: Self Released
Released 3/20/2017
Deep tracks
1. Sage & Sand (for Tristan)  
2. Thank You  
3. The Hunted  
4. Footprints in the Fog  
5. Interlude  
6. The Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit  
7. Island Swing  
8. Deep  
9. Psyche vs Soul  
10. Kealia Sunrise  
11. Prelude to a New Beginning  
12. Early Mourning: Passage  
Unseen, but heartfelt.
Adam Werner. First let us not confuse this talented fingerstyle guitarist with the Swedish hockey player. Their only common bond is they both play wooden instruments, sort of. Second, our Adam has released an exceptional new album called Deep. I call it an unexpected pleasure. And lastly, you’re going to love his music.

The twelve track contemporary collection opens with the tune Sage & Sand (For Tristan). Surprisingly, the guitar almost takes a back seat to the prominent flute lead, but it balances out completely in the end. The ballad centers on advice that a father gives his son. The soft, reverent song offers the well-known voice of Ugandan vocalist Samite whose velvety lyrics tell of the father inviting his son to help him change the universe. The song makes you believe it can be done.

With a sense of urgency and unseen motives, the song The Hunted begins. Adam produces deep throated strums balanced by sparkling harmonics, a testament to his admiration of guitarist Michael Hedges. This is an animated, dynamic, and compelling tune that suggests you cannot stop. You must go on or the game will come to an end.

I was fairly startled when I heard the next cut. It is a signature work by legendary guitarist Will Ackerman called The Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit. The provenance of this song is one of tragic sorrow, however, the nascent beauty of this piece is one that touches the heart like no other. Werner’s offering does the song justice, and although it was originally a solo guitar piece, his embellishments are not too intrusive. Bassman , who is well known in the Imaginary Roads circle of sidemen, and a legend in his own right, adds a thereministic bassline that is haunting within the melody.

Kealia Sunrise has that mellow Hawaiian slack-key guitar tone that soothes the spirit as only this kind of music can. Magical visions of the east coast of the island of Kauai and the way the morning sun creates gold and copper sky vistas is something to behold. This kind of music conjures up a lot of memories from my time in the islands and I cherish every one of them. Werner offers the perfect soundscape for soul-searching.

Adam's title tune, Deep musically delves into places that we keep locked up. Sometimes we keep them hidden from ourselves. They are dark vaults in the heart or unnamed caves in the soul. We hide there in times of sadness or confusion or despair. If this music tells us one thing, it is that shining a light in these shadowy places is the best thing we can do. Deep offers that luminosity in positive tones and harmonically lush elementals.

Psyche vs. Soul is a dramatic song, somber but not grave, with a graceful, percussion tinged melody and a muted overlay. It put me in mind of an old Jefferson Airplane called Lather, where the narrative is a melancholy picture of life as seen from outside looking in. The song has its complexities, but Werner's composition allow us to add our own scenario. What is your story?

The final cut is called Early Mourning: Passage. Along with Deep, it was a favorite on the album. The twist in is the title. On the surface it is a dispirited song full of anguish and poignancy. Not all is as it sounds, however. The music may be the sound of letting go, of surrender or better still, coming to terms. With the vocalization of Sydney Easton, the sound becomes weightless, celestial, an ascension perhaps. It may not be as sad as it seems.

This is my first encounter of Adam Werner's music and I am the better for it. Werner's talent lies in the fact that he can combine technically proficient fretwork with evocative settings and make the listener think and dream. This exceptional collection of contemporary guitar music provides the medium for introspection and it is pleasing to listen to at any hour.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/11/2018
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