Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - 114

HIT LIST REVIEWS
Al Di Meola

Opus

John Prine

The Tree of
Forgiveness

When John Prine
walks out on stage
these days, he's often greeted with
a long, thunderous standing ovation in
recognition of his songwriting craft. Not
even Mr. Dylan gets that.
Prine has released several lovely albums
of covers and duets in recent memory, it's
been 13 long years since his last collection
of original songs. And that makes this new
album all the more exciting.
Since successfully overcoming squamous
cell cancer in 1998, Prine has rejuvenated
his career with his own label and renewed
touring. Based in Nashville these days,
he's been busy collaborating with others,
including Black Keys guitarslinger Dan

John Prine

Auerbach, who co-wrote two of the
tunes here.
This new album includes cameos
from his new friends, including Jason
Isbell and Amanda Shires on several
tracks, and backing vocals from Brandi
Carlile. The album's produced by Dave
Cobb, who adds guitar, along with
pickers Jason Wilber, Pat McLaughlin,
and Isbell.
Akin to Prine's eponymous 1971
debut, this album is filled with emotion and personal musings - often
bittersweet and aching, even more often
deeply touching.
If you're a Prine fan, you'll want
this album. It's been well worth the
wait. - MD

VINTAGE GUITAR

Sunny War

With The Sun

A phrase like
"overnight sensation" is usually all kinds of
wrong in that

114

July 2018

the artist in question was beating the pavement
long before a writer or reviewer "discovered"
them. Case in point is singer/songwriter
Sunny War.
Her latest album has her centered amidst
hypnotically poignant compositions and beautifully supportive musical backing. Wielding
a non-traditional acoustic fingerpicking style
(she has a ridiculously limber thumb) developed performing on the streets of San Diego,
San Francisco, and Venice, this album brings
together touching poetry with plush musical
support and production skill.
Produced by Harlan Steinberger with support from psych-folk band Insects vs Robots,
War's songs mesmerize with a wistful ambiance. On "If It Wasn't Broken," War asks the
question, "How would you know you had a
heart if it wasn't broken?" Laced with delicate
fingerpicking and violin, it's a standout track.
War's influences run deep and wide as illustrated on "Gotta Live It," "I'm Human," and
the title track. These songs like "He Is My Cell"
and "Violent" reveal intelligent introspection
and strength. On "Til I'm Dead," War unites
the Piedmont blues tradition with the present
and the result is timeless music. - OJ

John Prine: Danny Clinch.

At t h i s p oi nt
in his career, Al
Di Meola easi ly
moves between his
cranked jazz-rock
mode or quieter Latin-world fusion. This
latest explores the latter, with compositions
that delve into South American, Spanish,
and Italian moods. In contrast to his highpowered fusion, Di Meola mostly deploys
acoustic nylon-string, but brings out electric for counter melodies and some solos.
"Milonga Noctiva" opens the disc with a
gorgeous ballad, rife with classical-guitar
arpeggios and sultry strings that evolve
into a dramatic tango groove. "Broken
Heart" reveals the electric and acoustic
interplay that Al does so well, contrasting
the sharp rhythms of acoustic with melodies and trem-bar flourishes played on a
PRS. "Ava's Dream Sequence Lullaby" is
about as exquisite as it gets, with rapturous
steel-string picking over orchestral pads.
Cue up "Notorious" to hear one of Al's
Latin-funk riffs - indeed, not many cats
can lay down a heavy, complex groove like
that. Later, he trades solos with himself,
playing nylon-string in the left channel and
overdriven electric on the right.
This is a beautiful record and strongly
recommended. It's heartening to hear a
musician still growing and moving forward, even after 44 years on the road. - PP


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - IFC
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