Dan Lambert,
(Coordinate Records, 2000)

Dan Lambert continues to weave his magic in Melodies/Improvisations, his 2000 follow-up to Plaids. He continues to paint pictures, tell stories and evoke feelings using just a guitar.

Then again, when the music is as good as it is and when the songs do as much as they do, it is not just a guitar -- even if that's the only instrument being played. I still don't like trying to peg his playing into a style; it is acoustic guitar music that flows from the heart. Whether it is jazz or folk or classical becomes secondary. Good music is always worth listening to no matter what style it is.

And the music certainly is good. You start off with "October Rhythm," a celebration of fall. Somehow, I am not sure why, I kept thinking of apple pies during the song.

"Harbinger" is a quiet anticipatory song, there is a sense that something is about to begin. More likely good than bad, but in any case something big is coming. In "Baysbrown," a different set of emotions is evoked as the music describes the feel of an old comfy house, a place that is slightly worn in places and is home. Then comes the simple clean lines of "To Donny" -- the name fits, especially as the last notes fade to silence.

You then travel from there to the land of dreams with "A Life's Dream," a restful, vision-filled song. The mood changes as it goes to the more wakeful, graceful form of "Design." There is a sense of structure and lines being formed by the music, as if something was being created before your ears.

"Secret of the Secret" is a strangely mysterious piece, building on itself, becoming more familiar and yet retaining the feel that it is not quite known.

Once again the scene changes as we are carried into the summer by "In the Shade by the River." One can almost see the guitarist playing by the river, shaded by an elm (or maybe an oak) as the music wafts down the breeze to the listener.

Then there are a few fun songs in a row. The first is "All Legs," which can sound rather gangly at places, but it still sounds good even then. The next is "Theme for an Imaginary Talk Show," a quirky piece that doesn't quite seem to suit its name. Then again, if there were a talk show to fit it, it would be a rather intriguing display. He then cheats with "Pirates in West Texas." It should not be possible to picture a pirate ship sailing across Texas, especially not one ignoring details like the lack of water, but somehow he paints that picture during the song.

"Please Remember Me" is the request of a wanderer not to be forgotten by those he is leaving. "Grasslands" continues from there, with the wanderer heading out through the prairies. "McDonalds on Beale Street" captures the feeling of watching the McDonald clan march down a street in full regalia, and at times the guitar echoes the sound of the bagpipes.

The CD then ends with "Song within a Song," a beautiful tune which flows from the guitar.

Melodies/Improvisations is another collection of poems played by Dan Lambert. Take the time to sit back and listen to them.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]

Buy Melodies/Improvisations from Amazon.com.