Andy McKee,
The Gates of Gnomeria
(Candyrat, 2007)

On this acoustic guitar CD by Andy McKee, the fantasy cover and title track refer to McKee's love of Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons. The title of one of the tunes, "All Laid Back & Stuff," is more descriptive of the music.

McKee uses a few effects, but nothing that takes away from the restful feel, or veers the CD away from a folk sound and toward new age. McKee does not seem to show off his fingerpicking prowess until the fourth cut, then on various tracks he combines bass and lead parts and plays some incredible harmonics. That's an advantage, giving a relaxed flow to the whole CD.

When I write he does not seem to start off with complicated riffs. I cannot tell for sure. McKee lists his tunings on each cut, most of which are different and unusual. The first cut has a tuning for 12 rather than six strings, and he is known to use baritone and harp guitars, so it is difficult to tell. He sounds like he is accompanied or double-tracked in parts, but there is no mention of it on the CD sleeve or booklet.

Not that analysis really matters. The important things are the tunes, which are all beautiful, but with enough variety to hold your interest. This is a gate you will want to go through.

review by
Dave Howell

31 January 2009

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