Anyone who leaned half an ear in the direction of Tompkins Square’s first Berkeley Guitar compilation, which featured a trio of unplugged artists from the People’s Republic, would discern the inherent dexterity in the work of Sean Smith. Stepping out on this latest disc, Eternal, Smith offers seven intriguing instrumental explorations. Tracks like “Topinanbour” and “The Real” trade in an ominous Mideastern modality. The latter seasoned by violinist Angela Hsu’s firefly meandering. “Palek Paneer” by contrast is a pastoral jaunt, with Smith’s high-stepping slide guitar setting the pace.
Other tracks charm as well, with a careful, impressionistic manner, though Smith is bold enough to trip up the listener with a squalling electric intrusion on at least one track. In this way, Smith accomplishes the impressive deed of acknowledging the work of outsider acoustic forebears while adding a few fresh creases of his own.
// Notes from the Road
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