There are an awful lot of acoustic guitar players plying the trade these days, more perhaps than in the glory days of Takoma in the 1960s. Even so, there’s always room for another good one, and James Blackshaw is one of the best. He’s even pretty good at the piano. Here’s my review of his new album, the Glass Bead Game, in today’s Blurt.
“Twelve-string phenomenon James Blackshaw has long been known for conjuring luxuriant, symphonic sounds out of his guitar. Indeed, even on pure solo guitar recordings, like ‘River of Heaven’ from the first Imaginational Anthem compilation, it is hard to believe that one person, playing one instrument could be responsible for all that cascading, shimmering, iridescent beauty. But however expressive, however versatile Blackshaw can make his acoustic instrument, it is apparently not quite enough. Here in his eighth full-length (and first for Michael Gira's Young God imprint), he extends that palette even further, adding guest vocals, violin, cello and flute to the toolset - and even switching from guitar to piano for two tracks. It is bold move, but it pays off. The Glass Bead Game is a dizzying achievement, showcasing not just Blackshaw's musical skills, but his vision and spiritual depth as a composer.”