George Winston is well known to new age piano enthusiasts for his best-selling acoustic recordings, but he's also well known for his productions of Hawaiian slack-key guitarists. It doesn't seem like there's much work for him as producer of Vietnamese acoustic guitarist Tinh Mahoney; he's just making sure Mahoney is comfortable as he tries to convey his experiences of growing up in war-torn Vietnam via the emotional modulations of the acoustic guitar. Mahoney's liner notes are powerful and help listeners get into the emotional foundations of each tune. Yet if you listen without knowing any back-story, this would be simply very listenable improvisational work, sometimes very much to the point, sometimes more meditative (dare we say noodling?). But given the accompanying images, listeners can close their eyes and enjoy the innocence of a river as it flows beneath the graceful "Mua Tren Snog Ma (Rain on the Stallion River)" and the brisk flight of "Butterflies in Pagoda." Then comes the strife, as he tells the tale of his family's move to Pakistan, strumming more powerfully all the time to convey the tension of life's trials. There's a nice mix of this tough energy balanced by softhearted gems like "Liam's Lullaby." "To Heal the Wounded Hearts" is a song and title which conveys Tinh's positive spirituality in the midst. He pays homage to the amazing landscape of his generation with a beautiful rendering of "The Star Spangled Banner," inspired, of course, by Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock performance.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran