Tom Carleno | Perfect Imperfection

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New Age: Solo Instrumental Folk: Fingerstyle Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Perfect Imperfection

by Tom Carleno

Winner of the 'Best Instrumental Album - Acoustic' award at the 2013 Zone Music Reporter Awards Show.
Genre: New Age: Solo Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. In Search Of
2:53 $0.99
2. Meet Me in Maui
3:41 $0.99
3. On the Border
4:28 $0.99
4. Welcome to the Milky Way
2:25 $0.99
5. Working Up an Appetite
4:06 $0.99
6. Timberline Tree
3:05 $0.99
7. Child's Play
3:56 $0.99
8. Rhapsody in Blood
6:29 $0.99
9. Imagine
3:11 $0.99
10. Brief Encounter
2:26 $0.99
11. What a Difference a Day Makes
3:49 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"I began recording this album in August 2009. Although it wasn’t my initial plan, it turned out to be a retrospective of my solo guitar compositions and arrangements, with songs spanning over twenty five years. It also became a step on a journey of personal and musical growth." Tom Carleno

"Tom Carleno’s Perfect Imperfection is an exercise in the humanity that makes us a work in progress. Perfect in our individuality, nuances and idiosyncrasies, this album... is a testament to artist growth and vision. Carleno takes us on a journey through grief, acceptance, horror movies, soul searches... and I enjoyed it immensely." Dana Wright,

Perfect Imperfection, the debut solo album by Tom Carleno, is more than simply a new musical project; it is a very personal work for the guitarist. In 2007 Tom realized that he was in a writing slump. While his band, Perpetual Motion, had been gigging and recording consistently, his songwriting had been decreasing for several years. The decline began in 1995, the year his mother died. When he realized how the loss had been affecting him he began on a path of self-discovery that wound it’s way through grief, feelings of anxiety and self doubt, to a desire and resolve to record an album expressing himself as an artist. In August of 2009, Tom went into Colorado Sound Studios for the first of several recording sessions, and over the next three years he wrote, arranged, rehearsed and recorded eleven songs that would become Perfect Imperfection. The album was engineered by Steve Avedis and produced by Josie Quick, Tom’s wife and musical partner in Perpetual Motion.

Spanning over 25 years of his compositions, the CD is a retrospective of sorts of Tom’s songwriting. The oldest song is “Brief Encounter”, a guitar duet, and the first fingerstyle song he ever penned. Written in 1985, it’s a song about the pleasure and pain of an early relationship.

“Child’s Play”, another early song, was written in 1989 as a solo guitar piece. It was originally recorded in 1997 and appeared on Perpetual Motion’s CD, Surfing On Cloud Nine. It has since become a duet featuring Josie playing the spoons.

Two songs on the CD were composed for Tom’s mother. Joan Carleno was an artist, and the song “Timberline Tree” was inspired by one of her paintings. “Meet Me In Maui” was written after a trip Tom and Josie took to the island in 2008. Maui was also a favorite destination for Joan.

As a big fan of horror movies from the 1930s & ‘40s, Tom wanted to write a solo guitar piece reminiscent of the soundtracks from those classic films. The result is “Rhapsody In Blood”, a very haunting and eerie track.

There are two brand new songs. “In Seach Of” and “What A Difference A Day Makes” were written specifically for Perfect Imperfection.

Tom also pays homage to three of his favorite songwriters with his arrangements of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Al Stewart’s “On The Border” and Tim Finn’s “Working Up An Appetite”.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Perfect Imperfection" is the debut solo album by guitarist/composer Tom Carleno, but this is hardly the beginning of his music career. Carleno has been performing with his acoustic jazz ensemble, Perpetual Motion, for more than twenty-five years and has recorded five albums with them. "Perfect Imperfection" is a real showcase for Carleno’s varied and passionate style of acoustic guitar playing and composing. A retrospective of eleven songs composed over the past twenty-five years and recorded over a four-year period, the pieces range from the serene “Meet Me in Maui” to covers of Al Stewart’s “On the Border” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” to “Child’s Play,” a spirited duet for guitar and spoons, and “Rhapsody in Blood,” Carleno’s homage to the horror films of the 1930’s and ’40’s - complete with sound effects! A master of his instrument, Carleno tells stories without words and paints vivid pictures without a canvas, sharing experiences and having fun in the process.

The album begins with “In Search Of,” a piece that Carleno says seemed to be trying to find its own way as he was writing it, sometimes going in different directions than he expected. Easy-going and relaxed, it’s a great opening. “Meet Me in Maui” is in memory of Carleno’s mother, who also loved to vacation in Maui. Very tranquil and calming, it feels like a warm breeze blowing over a peaceful ocean. Beautiful! “On the Border” is one of Al Stewart’s classic signature pieces. Originally released in 1976, Carleno’s cover version is a great tribute to the British rocker! The graceful “Timberline Tree” was inspired by a painting by Carleno’s mother, Joan Hagen Carleno. The piece is gorgeous, and a copy of the painting graces the back of the CD cover. I love “Child’s Play,” a playful and lighthearted duet for guitar and spoons (performed by Carleno’s wife, Josie Quick). “Rhapsody in Blood” is a trip! Inspired by the “spooky soundtracks” for early horror films, this 6 1/2-minute tour de force includes some great sound effects, many (all???) of which were created on the guitar - creaking doors, howling wolves, bone-chilling screams, thunder, and other sounds of dark foreboding. From there, we go to the gentle simplicity of Lennon’s classic “Imagine” - an exceptionally nice arrangement! “Brief Encounter” was Carleno’s first finger-style composition, written in 1985, and “What a Difference a Day Makes” is a lovely new piece composed specifically for this album.

"Perfect Imperfection" is a wonderful album that is excellent for focused listening as well as in the background. Well, “Rhapsody in Blood” isn’t too good as background music, but the rest of the tunes are! Great stuff!

Michael Diamond (

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
Although he has recorded numerous times with his Denver-based acoustic jazz group Perpetual Motion, this is Tom’s first release as a solo artist, and in the words of Crosby Stills and Nash: “it’s been a long time coming.” From the opening notes of the first track, “In Search Of,” it is obvious that Tom is an accomplished guitar instrumentalist. His intricate fingering is precise, yet fluid as it moves from one passage to another. I couldn’t help but notice, not only in this composition, but characteristic of his playing in general, are the unusual chord changes and progressions he comes up with. I liked the occasional unpredictability of it and enjoyed not knowing where it might lead next. While most of the 11 songs on the album are originals, Tom does offer his take on a few cover tunes. The first is an intriguing version of Al Stewart’s “On The Border.” The original arrangement is an epic composition with vocals and full orchestration, so I was interested to hear how Tom would play it on solo guitar. But he did an admirable job, and I enjoyed hearing this familiar melody in a more elemental form.

The final cover song is one that I, and probably everyone on the planet, is familiar with – “Imagine” by John Lennon. Tom’s gentle and respectful version captures the peace and love vibration that marked much of Lennon’s writing. The last two compositions on the album, in a way, bookend Tom’s career, highlighting past and present. “A Brief Encounter,” written in 1985, was his debut fingerstyle composition and is about first love and first heartache. The album comes to rest with a new song called “What A Difference A Day Makes.” This is one of my favorite pieces on the album and has a meandering bucolic feel, like a Sunday drive on a country road - a sublime ending to this wonderful recording. There is no doubt that Tom Carleno is a masterful fingerstyle guitarist. His songwriting is innovative and often intriguing, full of unexpected twists and turns. “Perfect Imperfection” is perfectly wonderful instrumental guitar music.

To read a full length feature article on this CD, as well as others, please visit:

Raj Manoharan (

The RajMan Review
Denver, Colorado-based guitar player and instructor Tom Carleno ventures out on his first solo recording, and it's quite the auspicious debut.

This is not your standard solo acoustic finger style guitar album, as many of the compositions are written and performed with alternate tunings. Carleno's creativity displays his ear for unusual and stirring tunes, and his dexterity on the guitar is masterful. Carleno is also joined on one track by his wife Josie Quick, who provides percussion with spoons on Carleno's chilling ode to horror movies.

This is a fine album that should appeal to fans of solo acoustic finger style guitar as well as anyone who enjoys original captivating music.