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Gren Bartley - Quiet (Wooden Walls Records)
Gren Bartley has been enjoying a sabbatical over recent years, very much off the music scene, a scene that Gren has contributed so handsomely to over the years, therefore it has come as a pleasant surprise to see him return with a new album, which the singer, songwriter and virtuoso guitar player has been literally giving away (well almost) through Bandcamp. Once again, Gren's guitar playing is the focus on these nine songs and in particular, the instrumental pieces, such as the hypnotic Missing You, originally written for the kora by Seckou Keita along with the featured slide guitar work throughout.
The album opener, Feeings of Mountain and Water, is possessed of an utterly enchanting ambience, the Fuzai Jin composition perhaps reflected in the album's title. After being further drawn into the delicate ethereal nature of the two opening pieces, Gren delivers the curiously jaunty Hukilau, Jack Owens' popular ukulele song covered over the years by everyone from Bing Crosby to Tiny Tim. Imperfect Love, the only song on the album to feature another musician, Julia Disney, whose atmospheric contribution gives the closing piece additional depth and which rounds off what could be seen, with the possible exception of the delightfully quirky Hukilau, as a deeply reflective and meditative suite of beautiful music; but there again, we all need a little bit of Hukilau every once in a while.