Eric Roth,
Secret Beach Solos
(independent, 2004)

Anyone who has ever lived near water, or at least dreamed of that chance, will instantly be attracted just to the title of Secret Beach Solos. The promise of mystery, shifting shorelines, breathtaking sunrises -- who could resist? And Secret Beach headman Eric Roth delivers. Striking out on his own with this second release, he produces a dreamy, smooth blend of acoustic jazz, folk and new age sensibilities that perfectly mirror the shifting moods of the coast.

The album's timbre is set from from the opening track: the smooth, jazzy, relaxing tones of the acoustic-guitar heavy "In Another Time." Roth follows this with another dreamy and lightly ennuic piece, "Secret Beach." Then comes the album's weakest track, "Moonbeams & Daydream," a solidly conceived number that, unfortunately, skims too closely towards the "college-dorm room with a hookah" waters. But Roth recovers quickly from that low point with the final three tracks: one long piece that he, for a reason I can't quite follow, decided to break into pieces. But however he laid the tracks, Roth showed imagination with "Between the Dark & the Daylight," a long piece recorded live on the shores of Lake Michigan, where nature is the only musician and the diurnal rhythms, the composer. Certainly, a concept seen before in many a new age album, but something indefinable hovers around this last piece on the album. Some might call it the natural drama of nature.

But perhaps it is Roth's passion and love for his work that sets his final tracks, and, indeed, his second recording, apart. He certainly has a vision and one you can share, as he provides chord charts in the liner notes. But whether you are a budding acoustic musician or just need to smooth out your edges, then Secret Beach Solos will give you the cool, refreshing dip into the waters that you are seeking.

- Rambles
written by Tracie Vida
published 26 February 2005

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