David Barrett | The Dead Arm

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Rock: Acoustic Folk: Fingerstyle Moods: Type: Acoustic
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The Dead Arm

by David Barrett

Adventures in modern solo guitar, featuring six and twelve string acoustic guitars, classical, mandolin, resophonic, and laud
Genre: Rock: Acoustic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Number Four
1:15 $0.99
2. Turquoise
4:35 $0.99
3. Latika
2:58 $0.99
4. The Galvo Garage
2:27 $0.99
5. 1981 (Song For Rick Norris)
4:15 $0.99
6. Padmasambhava
2:23 $0.99
7. The Dead Arm
3:46 $0.99
8. The Malbec Thieves
2:16 $0.99
9. The Pelham Puppet
2:37 $0.99
10. The Art of Dreaming Part I
6:20 $0.99
11. The Art of Dreaming Part II
5:03 $0.99
12. Tiger Balm
2:03 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
This is David Barrett's fourth acoustic cd featuring a new compositions on six and twelve string acoustic guitars, classical, resophonic, mandolin, and laud. All of the tracks are performed solo, except track 8, which is a multi-tracked mandolin tune. Album produced, written and arranged by David Barrett. Photography and design by Paul Reid.

Album Review by Dr. Dave Walker

David Barrett is well-known among fingerstyle guitarists and enthusiasts in the Toronto area. He seems always ready to lend a hand when necessary for any of the events sponsored by fingerstyleguitar.ca, and he is always ready with a guitar to fill in when needed. A fine player himself, he is always encouraging to those who are less experienced, or up and coming.

Although David is an outstanding electric guitarist, with The Dead Arm he gives us a solo acoustic CD, only availing himself of multi-track recording for occasional percussion and one whole track. This project was 18 months in the making. During that time David Barrett composed all of the pieces, and then recorded them himself, acting as recording engineer, producer, and mastering engineer! But don't think that this sounds "home made" in any sense. This CD is as polished as any produced in a big-time, big-budget studio. Indeed, if David Barrett ever gets tired of playing he certainly could have a future as a producer!

The CD starts with the driving sound of Number Four. This is a truly short but sweet number that lets you know what is in store for you here: precise, musical technique capable of blinding flashes of virtuosity all in the service of the song.

While we are still hoping that there is more to come in Number Four, the pace slows into the pensive atmosphere of Turquoise. Here the opening dyads alternate with a fuller melody accompanied by simple chords. Careful listeners might note some similarities between these two ideas, while anyone will enjoy the interplay of these two ideas, and the contrast between a stark, stationary idea and a developing melodic one.

From the introspection of Turquoise we pass into the extroverted exoticism of Latika. This piece sounds like an Arabian-inflected, somewhat frenzied dance. David Barrett plays percussion as well as guitar on this one. Just as we reach a climax and expect things to calm down, the piece continues along with the strings muted until we finally reach a calm oasis. However, we are soon back into the mainstream, swept along as the melody dissolves into a frenzy of chords that bring us to the end - well, except for the terrific tag ending.

A soft slide lands us in The Galvo Garage. David Barrett shows us the many moods of his 1930's Regal Resonator Guitar with some very deft slide playing. The opening quieter mood wrestles against a livelier, jaunty tune, until it finally wins out in the end.

1981 (Song For Rick Norris) was written for his high school friend and fellow musician who passed away in 2008. From an inward-looking start this song develops a stolid strength that seems to hold its own against the buffets thrown its way. Never hurried, this song continues along a path that seems as inevitable as its own understated grace. A very touching and original memorial.

Padmasambhava begins with a frenzy of chords from David's 1966 Gibson B 25 12-string guitar. This texture is so rich you could be forgiven for suspecting more than one player, but this is solo guitar at its most exciting. The sparky dissonances propel this supercharged number like a turbo-charged jet, pausing once to catch its breath before racing on to its ultimate conclusion. You will be amazed at how fast this man can play on a 12-string!

Before we catch our breath we are into the funky atmosphere of The Dead Arm. The title track motors along in its own determined way with plenty of rhythmic propulsion. Once again David Barrett shows himself a master of creating memorable moods. He is able to slide sinuously from one mood to another, but he is also capable of sudden changes of direction that give the song a whole new depth. This one is worth playing over again just to savour it one more time.

The Malbec Thieves starts with the rich sounds of over-dubbed mandolins, seven in all. This is the only departure from pure solo playing and it creates such a wonderful atmosphere that you will not be complaining. Far from it, this is yet another song that you will wish would go on and on.

The Pelham Puppet starts off with a lively melody tripping lightly over an insistent thudding bass. The interplay of these two contrasting ideas is the foundation of this piece. They work through the changes together until a big chord lets the melody loose for a quick cascade before the two join up again. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The Art of Dreaming Part I shows the wide range of sound that David Barrett coaxes from his 1970 Gibson Hummingbird Custom tuned to DADGAD. Strummed chords and arpeggios alternate in the huge sonic space that this guitar creates. You will be taken as much with the great guitar sound as with the song itself. When the opening theme returns at the end it is like the sun coming out after a storm ... but it does not stay sunny for long!

Part I slowly winds down into silence, when we are transported to a bright, brilliant flourish opening. This is The Art of Dreaming Part II and the wonderful sound is provided by David's 12-string laud. The laud is an old Spanish instrument, similar to a 12-string guitar but tuned a major third higher. The doubled strings and high pitch give this piece its brilliance, and it is recorded beautifully. This is indeed artful music to dream to.

For Tiger Balm, David returns to a guitar in standard tuning, but unusual for him, he plays with a thumb pick. It begins with a rambunctious but funky muted guitar, before opening up to some very fine fingerpicking. Once again David Barrett comes up with a completely original creation of a memorable mood. And what an ending to the CD!

This is an album that not only holds up to repeated listening, but gets better. I find myself enjoying it more each time, finding new phrases or counter-melodies or hearing something new in the blaze of notes passing by. There is no doubt that David Barrett is a fine guitarist, but more important he is a very fine musician who never lets technical pyrotechnics interfere with the music. Yes, there is lots of great playing here, but always in the service of an equally great song.

You can listen to excerpts from all the songs, and also buy the album or individual songs at cdbaby (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/barrettd7). It is also available on iTunes. Be sure to listen because you will like what you hear!



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