Michael Chapman

Americana

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    8
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Chapman has long had a fascination, not just with American music, but the American South and West. So an album explicitly inspired by the country should come as no surprise. The joy is how much it highlights his fabulous guitar picking. "Sweet Little Friend From Georgia" and "Coming of the Roads" might seem relatively straightforward, but the more epic "Swamp" and "Gaddo's Lake" delve into decidedly complex territory; in fact, the impressionistic "Swamp" is probably the record's centerpiece. As an instrumental portrait of the southern states it's loving, very finely honed, and played in a way that reminds you that Chapman is one of the best, and most undervalued, guitarists around. Even if "Jumping Geordie" has its origins on the other side of the Atlantic, it still fits in. For longtime fans, "Indian Annie's Kitchen" brings back some memories of "Kodak Ghosts," and throughout small touchstones of blues, country, and jazz slip by. A comparison to Ry Cooder -- most especially some of his soundtrack work -- might not be too amiss, except that Chapman is looking in from the outside, and is, possibly, a more gifted player.

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