Michael Henson

Flying Colors

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Michael Henson is that rare species of a performer who plays, for the most part, solo guitar without bothering to add vocals on Flying Colors. Unfortunately, finger-style guitar, of which there are many types, often gets unfairly labeled as easy listening or background music. Undoubtedly Henson's eclectic guitar pieces on Flying Colors will sound good in the background, and undoubtedly they will prove soothing to the weary traveler, but they are also skillfully arranged and performed. Henson mingles and welds a number of styles together, from Chet Atkins-flavored licks on "Five and Dime" to the Delta-driven blues of the appropriately titled "Blue Note," creating an easy-flowing approach that conceals his concentrated effort. On "Blue Note" and several other pieces, Henson has augmented his sound with one or more instruments -- cello, harmonica, the quena, and bells. These inclusions, most realized on the lovely "Lluvia Negra," are tastefully accomplished and expansive without taking the spotlight away from the central instrument, the guitar, as the addition of vocals sometimes do. The album closes with the simple, sunny "Martha's Theme," bringing the album to an emotionally satisfying conclusion. Undoubtedly guitar-genius wannabes will be able to learn a great deal from Flying Colors, but the album should likewise please anyone who enjoys quality instrumental music.

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