The first truly solo album by British guitarist Gordon Giltrap (his previous releases had featured a full band backing him), 1987's Elegy is pitched somewhere between the folk fusion experimentation of John Fahey and Bert Jansch and the more direct, pop-oriented work of rockers like Steve Hackett or Anthony Phillips. Less somber than the title would suggest, Elegy is a lovely blend of acoustic and electric guitars (with some bass thrown in to anchor the tunes, keeping the whole from floating into the new age ether) playing delicate folk-inspired melodies that tend toward simplicity and lyricism instead of either flashy notes-per-minute showmanship or treacly sweetness. It's not hard to imagine that if Mike Oldfield hadn't been so enamored of his overdubbing equipment and multi-instrumental excessiveness that he might have come up with an album quite similar to this in the early '70s. The 2000 reissue on the Resurgent label adds three full-band tracks, with vocals, recorded with the final incarnation of the Gordon Giltrap Band in 1985. Though they're of some interest to fans and collectors, they don't really fit musically with the rest of this otherwise charming album.
by Stewart Mason