For those of you who are regular readers you would have seen the name of Melbourne guitarist-composer Rick Alexander a few times on the blog in the last year or so, including a guest post written by the man himself*.
Well, in September 2013 (yes, I know I’m late in reviewing this – naughty me!), Rick released his latest (and might I add greatest) collection of pieces for solo nylon string guitar. Actually, to call the tracks on the album “pieces” doesn’t seem to fit quite right, I like to think of them as rather songs without words, such is their beautifully melodic quality.
Fine Light is a wonderful collection of imaginative, lyrical and reflective songs, some of which Rick began writing in the early 2000s and completed in 2013. For me this album is a perfect accompaniment to a lazy Sunday morning, or a quiet reflective evening in – there’s certainly more than enough melodic and harmonic interest there to keep you humming along (and even making an earworm or two), but without overly taxing the noggin. If you like simply beautiful instrumental music, delivered in a cool, clear crisp and emotive manner by the composer themself then this is a recording to add to the collection.
Of the 16 tracks on the album here are some of the highlights for me:
Missing You – Rick wrote this one for his wife after she’d just left for a long trip overseas, a tune with a sweet, longing disposition but without being overly melancholy. Rick makes great use of some alternative tuning on this track, tuning the A string down to G, which lends a fantastic depth and resonance to the tune.
Intersection - overdubbed duet of interweaving lines, originally intended and recorded purely as a solo piece, but Rick then decided to overdub an improvised second part over the top to great effect
Gliding - a song with wistful, slightly melancholy feel. Rick brings in a key change midway through that offers a glimmer of positive hope, with shimmering chords and a delightfully positive ending.
Frozen Space – another with a slightly wistful feel to it, but with some lovely guitaristic effects including perfectly timed use of harmonics. Simply beautiful.
PJ – not a song about his pyjamas! This is a tune Rick wrote in 2012 whilst in Petaling Jaya (PJ), Malaysia and features a wonderfully laid-back, upbeat melody, featuring a really lovely ending with a nice little jazzy chord for good measure. Up there in the running for my favourite track of all.
Fine Light – an intriguing opening with plenty of breathing space, making you wonder where it’s headed…..Before Rick then launches into this great toe-tapper of a tune. In fact I dare you to listen to this one and not tap along! I’d go so far as to say that this is my favourite track of them all – most definitely. It’s just an all-round great tune, a great up-beat feel, some really nice harmonies with a little bit of spice, contemporary cross-flavour nylon string guitar writing at its best.
If you head on over to Rick’s website he’s got Missing You and Fine Light up there as free tracks to listen to. He’s also been kind enough to transcribe them and post up the sheet music for you too, so you can play along!
I definitely recommend you head over and check it out: http://www.rickalexanderguitar.com/finelight.html
And if you wanted your own copy of this gorgeous recording, the same link features the various ways you can get hold of a copy for yourself – CD or a download through iTunes or Amazon. The CD is also available through Amazon, CD Baby and CD Universe. Alternatively if you’re in Melbourne you can buy the CD from Hans Music Spot, Croydon or from Audiophile Reference Recordings at 2 Florence Street, Burwood.
* Just in case you missed out here are those previous posts featuring Rick: