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Instrumental Review: Bob Ardern-Craftsman

Release Date:March 2014
Label: Independent

Bob Ardern is a guitar master whose music reaches across many genres. If you listen, you can hear a sampling of roots music with a dash of Celtic, Jazz and Americana thrown in for good measure. His unique sound arose from English folk music and the finger style guitar playing has stayed with him. In Craftsman we see a lot of old style instrumentation blended with the best of modern technology. Guest musicians include Alyssa Wright (cello), Don Bray (engineer), Dave Findlay and Kev Corbett (percussion, bass). The vast arrays of instruments used are: guitar, cello, trumpet, Glockenspiel, bodhran, pipe organ, Celesta, Spider Capo, Dragon’s Breath, bells, Synth pad, percussion and bass. The album features a special bonus track of “Paso Doble Solo Guitar” that is sure to whet any Classical guitar aficionado’s appetite.


“Tiddlywinks” is the opening track for the album and features Kev on percussion and Dave on the Hi Hat. It is a merry little tune, filled with elements of acoustic guitar that bumps along happily to a different sort of beat. The piece makes me think of walking along a path with butterflies popping along on a spring afternoon. Happiness and joyful play are the central feelings here. The music is festive and leads you into the open air of springtime.

“Back to Basics” Percussion, bass, piano and Dragon’s Breath synth pad are featured on this fun little composition. Playful, it is running on the beach and kicking sand into the air. It is splashing through small waves as they rush upon the shore. Finding joy in the simple things, remembering the happiness of discovery-of the realization that the best things in life are at times unexpected. Rattles of percussion intertwine with acoustic guitar and bass to create an evocative piece filled with emotion and awakening.

“Keep It Simple” begins with elegant guitar work that twists and winds its way along a textured path of artful instrumentation and composition. The melodies that flow from this piece are restful and if you close your eyes, you can see the colors burst inside of your imagination. If this song were a drink, it would be a velvety white chocolate mocha going down to warm your soul. Every finger movement is captured in minute detail, allowing the listener to fall into the music and just be.

“Paso Doble Solo Guitar” is the bonus track on the album. Deliberate and fluid, the fingering of this piece is a landscape of melody with an acoustic guitar gone solo. Whereas the original piece had the synth pad, bass, percussion and trumpet, this piece is solely guitar. You know the saying, less is more? I can’t think of a better example. (I loved the first version too, but this one was wonderful.) The pure sound churning out with every pluck and strum is like manna from Heaven. This track is pure bliss for the acoustic lover’s soul. 

Bob Ardern’s classic finger picking guitar style is epic. This Canadian artist has gathered some of the best guest musicians and producers together to craft an album worthy of spending time with. Seven capos and six strings brings us twelve tracks of instrumental guitar with flavors of Jazz, roots music, Americana, Classical and a bit of Celtic to mix things up a bit. Craftsman was exactly what the name of the album suggests. Each track was wrought with skill and intent to bring out the best of each instrument and artist performing. You won’t want to miss this one. Bob Ardern has made my must listen list and I look forward to his next album. 

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Tiddlywinks, Back to Basics, Keep It Simple, Paso Doble Solo Guitar

Dana Wright

March 22, 2014

Review Provided By Write a Music Review

Tracks:
01.Tiddlywinks
02.Pipe Dream
03.Capo Breton Lullaby
04.Schrödinger's Cat
05.Keep It Simple
06.Nova Scotia New Age Blues
07.Back To Basics
08.Bellringers
09.Still Waiting
10.Winding Down
11.Paso Doble
12.Paso Doble Solo Guitar



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