Solo, Volume 1

Music Review

19 Jan 2013
Ryan Blotnick
Solo, Volume 1
ryanblotnick.bandcamp.com

Ryan Blotnick's first solo release starts out pretty angular and clearly electric but it's not long before Blotnick gets into a less aggressive acoustic style that's strong on innovation and had me hooked. I got the impression that he'd listened to plenty of John Fahey but reading some background it seem that's almost a coincidence because he cites Leo Kottke among others as being influential and Kottke was a fan of Fahey so the wheel keeps turning. There's clearly a folk/blues background to some of the work but although it veers close to familiar tunes there's always something unexpected around the corner. If you read about Blotnick's regular line of work you will discover that he usually plays jazz with a variety of bands in New York, this is not something that is obvious here, that could be because solo acoustic jazz guitar is a pretty rare thing but few would identify the finger picking on here that way. The work is at times complex enough to be considered jazz and has the sense of adventure that one associates with the form but at its best it transcends styles and stands on its own.
This is a gritty and apparently unpolished but clean sounding FLAC release with no heavy reverb or studio tweakery, it's refreshingly honest sounding, a state of affairs that reflects the music well. The guitar Blotnick used on all but one piece was a 1959 Martin 00-18e with a single coil pick-up, he played it through an amp and was able to experiment with different effects which probably explains why it has a more powerful sound than a regular steel string guitar but not the room acoustic associated with a mic. The only fault I find with this album is that it's only 34 minutes long, but that's not a complaint, after all it's about the length of many great albums from the vinyl era and is clearly a case of all wheat no chaff. It's dubbed Volume 1 because he plans further cross genre solo improvisational albums for the future. I for one will be looking forward to them.

ryanblotnick.bandcamp.com