Live at Spanish Ballroom
Jake Eddy is a new name amongst flatpickers. But his new solo CD, Live at Spanish Point, is further evidence we live in the golden age of flatpicking. Playing strictly as a solo flatpicking act here, Eddy shows he’s as much a master of this difficult disciple as David Grier or Steve Kaufman. One critical element to that is the taste and poise he brings to this project. Eddy reigns in some of the speed and technical skills that have made him an internet guitar star, focusing for the most part on generating gorgeous guitar tones in support of the melodies. But there are still plenty of flatpicking highlights in the vein of Jake Workman or Cody Kilby here.
Over ten tracks here, Eddy, a fanatic about transcribing solos from other players, displays a full complement of styles here. “Dale Hollow” would sound right at home on a Bryan Sutton record, fluid, dynamic and filled with clever phrases and unexpected triplets. “Black Mountain Rag” channels both his inner Doc Watson and Clarence White.
But he’s no clone, and shows his tremendous musical imagination on “Beaumont Rag,” played here with a cool reggae-like beat, decorated with clear-toned triplets and insidious outside notes to enliven things here. You can even hear traces on Norman Blake and Dan Crary in places. Another highlight is his rendition of Darol Anger’s great tune “Ride The Wild Turkey,” played here in a tempo contrasting with the breakneck speed it’s usually performed at first before igniting the afterburners.
Unlike another recent high-profile solo flatpicking CD I gave an unfortunately positive review of, there’s no pretense or ego-feeding unnecessary hot licks here. Jake Eddy approaches this project as a musician first, only using his superpowers for good.
Consequently, Live at Spanish Ballroom is filled with great guitar music. It’s also very funny, as Jake tells a self-mocking story of the time he unwittingly tried to sell a concert t-shirt to a blind man who kept insisting he didn’t care what it looked like. He’s unafraid to tackle material and modest tempos most flatpickers would avoid, like Libba Cotten’s “Freight Train,” or “Joy To The World,” and his audiences loves him for it here. He’s focused and respectful of the melody at all times, never leaving the listener confused about what tune he’s playing. But through that prism, Eddy also displays nearly boundless melodic and rhythmic invention. With his debut CD, Jake Eddy has announced himself as yet another brilliantly talented musician bringing his passion for flatpicking guitar into the highest realm.