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Bryan Clark - Gossip, Inspiration and Slander
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

It’s been an ambitious project.

Bryan Clark, and to be honest, he’s someone I hadn’t heard of, is a guy who not so much strums a guitar, but plays it with a crafted style and an educated class that is impressive, captivating and awesome.

It all comes together, perfectly, in his solo outing the motivated two-disk set, Gossip, Inspiration and Slander, out now on Rainfeather Records. The set – an acoustic nine-track, bluegrass-tinged set, and a twanged and amped 10 tracker – is a joyous intro, for me at least, to this noted performer.

Think tight players, players like Urban, Paisley, Chet Atkins, or Aussie guitar hero Tommy Emmanuel and you’re close to appreciating what’s on offer here. Simply, Clark is gifted. More than that, he’s a well-credentialed and serious picker, having, along the journey, secured not only an undergrad degree, a masters, but also a prestigious doctorate in music. It’s safe to assume and the proof is positive: he knows his frets, bridges and chords.

Clark grabbed his musical weapon of choice early. He was nine when his uncle handed him a guitar. The good only got better. Clark turned his fascination with six strings into a passionate affair, one that would see him develop…and keenly. Inspired by Ricky Skaggs, Clark spent formative years in bands, playing mainly bluegrass. Now, with the apprenticeship served, Clark is forging out and playing music in his way and, importantly, on his terms.

I mentioned this was an ambitious venture. It is. Clark not only plays a bulk of the instrumentation, he has also written a fair swag of the tunes. Hmmm…did I mention he also serves double duty as producer?

Angelyne” is a fiddle rich piece of plucked and played brilliance. It serves as the opener to both CDs. On the acoustic offering, Clark gets some talented mates to balance the output ---Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Casey Dreissen (fiddle), Matt Flinner (mandolin) and Bryn Bright (stand-up bass). They all add weight and style to Clark’s clean and clear guitar. To highlight his versatility, on the electric cut, Clark goes alone playing all instruments.

The notable cuts on the acoustic set include the tantalizing “Midnight Kisses”, the moody “Raven King”, and ‘Kiss The Bride” as it chugs along with smooth playing on its tale of love and loss. The electric set is as enjoyable; again, Clark shows his many abilities, all wrapped in a voice that earns a listen with its country and Americana leanings. Standouts include the bluesy “Bumper to Bumper”, the distinct radio possibility “The Way It Is”, and the sexy and vamped “Don’t Blame Me”.

These albums are sure to appeal to those who lean on the solid and the meaningful. The music here is top drawer, the playing exemplary; and Clark’s songwriting shows wider possibility.

It has been an ambitious project. But, and there’s good news, the result proves one thing -- the gossip, slander and inspiration has been worth it.

Click the pic to order from Amazon.com.

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