John Renbourn's 2011 album Palermo Snow, his first new studio recording in 13 years, finds the veteran British guitarist turning in a varied set of acoustic guitar instrumentals that go well beyond the simple designation "folk." Renbourn is joined on some tracks by clarinetist Dick Lee, who first appears several minutes into the seven-minute title tune, a Renbourn original full of textured chording and careful fingerpicking. Lee also adds melodic flavor to such later tracks as the jazzy "Ugly James" and jazz musician Randy Weston's low-key "Little Niles" (which has some of the feel of Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat"). Renbourn turns classical with his guitar transpositions of Erik Satie's "Sarabande" and Bach's "Cello Prelude in G," the latter sounding like it might have taken quite a while to work out for guitar, even if it lasts less than three minutes. A bluesy style enters with Renbourn's original "Weebles Wobble (But They Won't Fall Down)" and with the closing cover of "Blueberry Hill." This is the work of a master guitarist who has taken his time to come up with a quality record.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann