Gordon Giltrap

A Testament of Time

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After recording two solo albums for Transatlantic and a group effort (Accolade) for EMI, Giltrap struck a recording deal with MCA, which paved the way for A Testament of Time. With access to a bigger budget and a bigger studio, Giltrap was free to expand his sound. Instead, and despite the presence of a string section, he managed to keep his head straight and put together an intimate collection of songs and instrumentals. Acoustic guitar, double bass, and light percussion account for most of the instrumentation. An occasional flute or oboe come in here and there, and of course the string section glides through most of the tracks, but Giltrap's compositional essence is firmly anchored, unmoved by the possibilities that could have lured him toward more grandiose effects. His lyrics have not aged very well, especially when they tackle religious subjects ("Gethsemane"), but the melodies are as moving as they were back in the early '70s. The instantly catchy "Starting All Over," the folkier than folk "Cycle," and the Dylanesque "The Entertainer" exemplify his songwriting style: simple but not facile. The album also introduced some strong solo acoustic numbers, including the classic "Catwalk Blues." It's a shame Voiceprint was not able to clean up the master tapes any better for the CD reissue. Sadly, there is a significant amount of signal overload whenever Giltrap strums hard. The contribution of the string section may or may not work for you -- it sure adds a certain soppiness to songs that would have been better off without it. Still, A Testament of Time is a fine effort by a young, extremely talented guitarist with a still naïve outlook on life.

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