Dominic Miller

Shapes

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An easy listening album that is, paradoxically, extremely hard to listen to, Dominic Miller's Shapes offers simplified classical themes and popular songs in insipid arrangements and is guaranteed to disappoint all but the least critical listener. Backed by a bland string orchestra, Miller displays an unremarkable technique and a propensity for pretty arpeggios and ardently plucked melodies. If this guitarist has any personality, artistry, or emotional involvement with his material, then they are well hidden behind the veils of cliché and commercialism. Miller appears in the CD's booklet as a poetic minstrel on a journey of personal discovery; yet his dumbing-down of familiar classical pieces to suit his pop style -- or, more likely, his limited abilities -- negates any sense of exploration. The rich complexities of Bach, Beethoven, and others are reduced to jejune tunes, and it is clear early on that Miller has taken the course of least resistance. Guest artists are drawn into the tepid proceedings, perhaps to deflect attention from the featured performer, but their contributions are as unimpressive as Miller's are unmemorable. Pop singer Sting, tenor Plácido Domingo, Latin vocalist Alejandro Lerner, and jazz trumpeter Chris Botti add their earnest efforts to the jumbled crossover mix, but the results are unsatisfying and more than a little confusing.

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