Greg Meckes,
Moments of Clarity, Part I
(self-produced, 2003)

As implausible as it may sound, the initial inspiration for Moments of Clarity involved a cricket and a crowded city street. Greg Meckes, who was in a foul mood and having a bad day all around, was stopped by the sound of a cricket. It was singing from a rare patch of green that had managed to force its way up through a crack in the sidewalk. As Meckes puts it, "In a split second, all that was bearing down on my spirit that day disappeared. ... All that mattered was the sweet song of the cricket."

Meckes' realization that music had the power to transport and transform led him to experiment with a series of simple, solo pieces played on an acoustic guitar. The music is what Meckes calls "fingerstyle," meaning he plucks rather than strums the strings, with the result that melodies pour in a series of liquid eddies and ripples from the instrument.

The melodies themselves are hard to describe and even harder to pin down. Words like folksy, playful, melodic and introspective come to mind, but fail to do the work justice. For those who are familiar with modern acoustic guitar artists, it may help to say that Meckes' music is reminiscent of William Ackerman, Don Ross and the late Michael Hedges. But Meckes has none of Ackerman's over-the-top sweetness, nor Ross's tendency to burst at the seams. Hedges' work is probably closest, but again that analogy is misleading and limiting. It would be best to set all comparisons aside and spend some time with Meckes and his explorative, probing style.

If I had one complaint about Moments of Clarity, it was that after awhile the pieces began to blend together in my mind. There was an overall homogenous quality to the compositions that made me wonder where Meckes was headed both with the individual pieces and the CD as a whole.

The bottom line for me is that while Moments of Clarity is both pleasing and relaxing, it suffers from a lack of focus and direction. Meckes is an immensely gifted musician from whom we have a right to expect more than simply pleasant music. He is capable of insight, depth and, yes, clarity. Instead, we are taken on a long and somewhat directionless ramble, and can't help but come away wanting more. I will be quite curious to see what happens when Meckes hones his vision and lets us hear what's behind the pleasant facade.

- Rambles
written by by Jena Ball
published 27 September 2003

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