Ed Hamilton

Path to the Heartland

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Path to the Heartland Review

by Jonathan Widran

Path to the Heartland is rich with lively diversity which draws from a wide spectrum of influences -- rock, pop, blues, funk, fusion, and, last but not least, bebop. Hamilton's keen flair for catchy pop hooks, combined with a yearning to stretch out and improvise, make the Hamilton experience a multi-format pleasure. It's almost like he's gone out of his way to brag about the eclectic record collection he had when he was growing up. While he and his Philly jamming buddies -- the trio of keyboardist Dave Falciani, acoustic bassist Vince Fay, and drummer Pat Petrillo -- can be subtle and sweet ("Beginning Again"), they seem to have more fun experimenting with more free-spirited interactions like the bubbling hip-hop flavored "South Street Shuffle" and the hard rock distortion of "In the Cracks" (where Hamilton explores his early influences of rockers Led Zeppelin and Van Halen). While at the core of Hamilton's gear shifting is a jazzman adept at the type of cool, sparse quartet flavors we hear in the swinging "Lumpy," the avant-garde interaction between Hamilton's fiery licks and Falciani's spacy synth sounds on the mind tripping "Monsters in the Closet" proves that he's also got a wicked sense of humor. And in a genre which discourages it, he's not afraid to take a few risks.

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