"Rainshadow Sky" CD - Jeff Pearce

Jeff Pearce's latest solo release is a collection of unedited compositions recorded direct in live performance. Because there are no microphones, the CD has a "studio sound," but with the spirit and energy of a concert. The pieces are relaxed and meditative, but not sleepy. Jeff has made a name for himself as an "ambient guitarist," but this release, together with 2005's Lingering Light, clearly show that he's finding just as strong a voice on The Stick.

His ACTV-2 equipped 10-string sounds like two deep baritone guitars slowly interweaving, one voice calling out the next, in a thoughtful conversation. The pieces makes use of different compositional and electronic "devices" to drive them along and distinguish one from the other. The title track, "Night Path" and "Deluge" all rely on a delays (not loops) to establish a compelling rhythm, but rather than hang out in one chord or key, Jeff expands and shift the harmony ever onward, with some surprising turns. "Sorrow in Spring" an "A Secret to Hide" are all about space; long notes linger, waiting for just the right place to continue on or turn back to a previous theme. Most of the pieces are in minor keys, which feels like we're meant to be anticipating the oncoming winter more than reveling in the warm colors of fall. Amid the bleakness come major chords, rays of sunlight bursting through.

"Autumn Clouds" is a lilting mid-tempo waltz with deep lingering reverberations. Here Jeff makes great use of the dynamic qualities of the instrument to "punctuate" the tune. "The Last Warm Day in October" rings like church bells, and "Harvest Storms" fades in like a rising wind, ominous clouds billow in. There are some sounds, some chords and colors that keep recurring, like certain scenes in the Indiana landscape where Jeff resides. This riffing on a theme could get old, were it not for his ability to turn us at just the right moment and show us what we've not seen yet - the "more than meets the eye." like the little filtered melody line in "Deluge", darting across the landscape like a flock of southbound birds, and then the rain breaks with pounding percussives. 

Greg Howard

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