Kotaro Oshio

Dramatic

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Those who love to explore the romantic and rhythmic possibilities of the acoustic guitar will love this Japanese performer's fascinating approach to fingerstyling, which can pull off rich tapestries of melody and rhythm (as on the explosive and celebratory opening track, "Splash") just as easily as he touches the more subtle reaches of the heart on the gently emotional "Wind Song." The album is comprised of that exact balance of playfulness and softly lit romance throughout, the best tracks being the exuberant, perfectly titled "Happy Island" and the plucky "Changing Skies." Oshio also takes a classical detour in the middle, performing a lovely arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon in D ("Canon") and a very low-key, rhythmically oriented arrangement of Bolero. Dramatic will be a great find for fans of Michael Hedges, Don Ross, and Leo Kottke. If you like hearing the wood as you hear the strings, Oshio's music is just the ticket.

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