Ewan Dobson's the kind of guitar player that, when he shows up for various tourneys, everyone else throws their hands up in the air, mutters "Oh godammit!", and quietly work their way to the rear exit 'cause his inhuman precision, intelligence, and extended technique are jaw-dropping. Thus, he's won contest after contest and earned the admiration of old pros and young lions alike. This latest from CandyRat, Acoustic Metal, is a two-disc exposition of his transposition of metallic stylings to classical/fusion/rock/jazz pastures, all demonstrating what's really at the bottom of heavy metal…which Ewan started out in. The unreal precision in his flawless recitations, though, has to be heard to be believed.
In fact, as of 2011, Dobson had racked up an unreal 10 million YouTube hits because no one could believe there wasn't gimmickry going on in the recordings, stunned to watch him in real time. This Metal set is a non-stop demonstration of complex, intricate, highly wrought songs that showcase everything the guy's capable of: bluegrass, metal, Canadian folk, Brit troubadour, techno, trance, video game, contemporary fingerstyle, and, I have no doubt whatsoever, Martian neo-Romantic late-period apocalypse serenades. Autumn Red, for instance, will be giving John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, and the old-guard medieval brigade the heebie-jeebies, wondering how on Earth anyone could come up with what Dobson does. Then Jan Akkerman will be tuning in eagerly to The End of Face.
One disc contains 15 songs accompanied by Zack Bevelacqua on drums. I wasn't sure that format, just guitar and drums, was going to work, but it does, beautifully. Bevelacqua never steps on Dobson's toes, is himself metronomically perfect, pristinely metered, and acts almost like a second guitar. The other slab is solo guitar, deleting the drums and then adding 10 more cuts. Not many tracks are balladic, the spooky Carnival of Forsaken Children being one that is…kinda!, and songs like Apparition will have you yelling "You gotta be kidding me! NO ONE can do that!", but the impossible is the norm for this guy, and I'm betting you can't listen to an entire disc in one setting. It's too exhilarating. Have some smelling salts and a few tranquilizers ready, though, and you just might be able to make it through.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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