Gordon Giltrap

Troubadour

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In late 2001, the label La Cooka Ratcha reissued Gordon Giltrap's late-'90s album, Troubadour, as a two-CD set under the title Acoustic Troubadour. The extra disc contains guitar-only versions of the 14 original pieces. String arranger Del Newman has done a potent job on Troubadour; his lush scores served the music well in general, but occasionally fell into easy listening bubblegum -- Giltrap himself walks a fine line between instrumental craftsmanship and elevator music. But most of all, the strings, flute, and horn had a way of distracting the listener from the real treat: the guitarist's playing, still among the strongest in acoustic guitar. His light touch and less-is-more approach wrap you in a warm cocoon. The medieval inspiration also becomes more obvious on the "acoustic" CD (a strange choice of words, since the "full version" music features only acoustic instruments anyway). The album contains two cuts by Tim Rice, excerpts from Heathcliff, which Giltrap performed live on every night of the British production of the play. All the other pieces are original songs, except for the traditional "Kerry Dancers" closing the set. His melodies are always strong and evocative, requiring very little or no accompaniment at all. That's why the solo CD is superior and a welcomed addition. Lighter than Steve Hackett's acoustic guitar music but more consistent than Gandalf's new age dreams, this album is simply comfortable.

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