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"Both Sides Now"
RJ Lannan And Bill Binkelman opine from "Both Sides Now"
Other reviews from "Both Sides Now":
  Wings II: Return To Freedom by 2002, reviewed by RJ Lannan / Bill Binkelman on 5/24/2010
  Renaissance of Grace by Aurora Juliana Ariel, reviewed by RJ Lannan / Bill Binkelman on 1/18/2009
  Forgiving Dreams by Damon Buxton, reviewed by RJ Lannan / Bill Binkelman on 1/18/2009
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Forgiving Dreams
By Damon Buxton
Label: Many Miles Music
Forgiving Dreams tracks
1. Margarita Luna
2. The Tea Garden
3. Echoes
4. Roses In December
5. This Sweet Embrace
6. Lilys Travelling Lullaby
7. Eye Of The Needle
8. Thursday At Seven (Ashleighs Song)
9. Forgiving Dreams
10. Tibet
11. The Butterfly
12. A Conversation In The Rain
Forgiving Dreams
After hearing Damon Buxton's new album Forgiving Dreams I can understand why producer Will Ackerman has high hopes for this artist. Like a writer who speaks volumes with a few words, Buxton's sparse style shouts to the rooftops that the musical voice you hear is one to be reckoned with. He is not so much minimalistic as he is precise. He never wanders from center. I do not suppose he will release an album of tone poems anytime soon. His music is distinctive enough to hear the stories in the songs. His subject matter is family first and perhaps a few current events, but all of it is in a palatable fingerstyle that is sure to please even finicky listeners.

Of all the songs on the album Echoes is the one that sounds like it just came out of the Ackerman songbook, not a bad thing. It is a gentle song, one that rushes softly like ripples in a pond or like the wind hissing in the hemlocks. It is the voice that you hear in the distance that repeats what the voice inside suggests.

This Sweet Embrace is sensual and melodious. The refrain has its own reverberation, repeating like a voice across the canyon. There is physical warmth to the song that tells about not only the hand that is held, but also the embrace of the eyes. It is not long before the embrace of the heart follows. This is the best cut on the recording and a favorite.

I listen to music almost everywhere and almost all the time. Occasionally I will put a CD into the track player and just listen without any visual clues from the package. I knew instantly that the song I was hearing was the title tune, Forgiving Dreams. I like to fathom the nuances in the tune, but after I saw the title, I had my doubts. The title is ambivalent to me, so I went with my first interpretation. Every writer wants to be published, every musician wants to perform or have a successful record, and every dreamer wants to have his or her dreams come true. They do not always no matter how hard they try or how long they wait. There comes a time when you must forgive your dreams and move on. This is about moving on.

Tibet was a fascinating tune to me. Dedicated to the decades-long struggle for peace in that country, Buxton actually puts a Spanish guitar spin to the song that takes east meets west to a whole new level. Imagine if Rodrigo or Segovia had visited Tibet and were inspired to write a tune. That is what they would write.

I am very impressed with this debut album. I hear a lot of guitar, but Damon Buxton like a seasoned artist already has a handle on composition and subject. With a bit more color and shading, he will garner rich success. I look forward to the next recording, but this one will do for now.

Rating: Good + - RJ Lannan

I'll sound like a broken record (groan!) writing this, but here's yet another recommended release from producer Will Ackerman (and engineer/mixer/mastering ace Corin Nelsen), this time featuring a relatively new acoustic guitarist, Damon Buxton (one CD release previous to this one). Forgiving Dreams is a heartfelt collection of mostly gentle introspective pieces featuring one man and one guitar (although the title song has Ackerman joining Buxton in studio). Enhanced with personal liner notes detailing each song's inspiration, the album is a great choice for cloudy afternoons, evenings in front of the fire, or (yeah, I'm going to list this reference in yet another review) cruising down rural backroads in the autumn (which is exactly when I played it on my yearly pilgrimage in October to my mother's gravesite in rural Wisconsin). The plaintive melodies, delicate and graceful, heard while winding my way through cornfields, hilly pastures and small towns, made the drive a distinct pleasure.

Forgiving Dreams contains twelve tracks and not a weak one in the bunch. My personal bias is toward the quietest, most somber pieces, but that should not be perceived as a criticism of the few uptempo numbers, such as the semi-jaunty Eye of the Needle. Most of the music is low-key; don't expect to hear nything "happy." Just the same, some tracks are less downbeat (in emotional tone) than others so this also isn’t funereal in nature, either.

Margarita Luna opens the album with just a hint of Mexican flavor... a dash of spice and fire if you will. The Tea Garden is lovely, a minimal piece built around a musical theme of repeated notes that hovers delicately in the stillness. Echoes flows along on a sad circular refrain, alternating between brief bursts of subdued drama followed by minimal passages. The title duet with Ackerman is warm and suffused with gentle remembrance while Lily’s Traveling Lullaby prances about lightly with a soft playfulness amidst its pretty main melody. The closing A Conversation in the Rain epitomizes introspective thoughtful acoustic guitar music... not too sad, not too moribund…and balancing liveliness with darker tinted melodies.

It's hard to believe that even with all the great acoustic guitarists out there, Damon Buxton can enter the scene and not only stand out from the crowd but make it clear that the genre is far from being played out (would that this same statement apply to solo piano releases, but it doesn't). It's pretty simple, actually. If you enjoy "quiet" solo acoustic guitar instrumentals, Forgiving Dreams is highly recommended.

Rating: Very Good - Bill Binkelman
Combined Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan / Bill Binkelman on 1/18/2009
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