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Whisperings At Nightfall
By Robert Linton
Label: October Moon Records
Released 6/27/2006
Whisperings At Nightfall tracks
1. Candlelight
2. Autumn Moon
3. Whisperings at Nightfall
4. Within the Outline
5. Wait Until When
6. Silent Hollow
7. Field of Lilies
8. Flowing Echo
9. Into the Grove
10. Moonlit Rainfall
Whisperings At Nightfall
The moody and atmospheric black and white photography featured throughout the CD booklet should've tipped me off, but even by the usual Will Ackerman-as-producer standards, acoustic guitarist Robert Linton's recording is more subdued, introspective and (pleasantly) somber. Of course, Ackerman doesn’t produce "bouncy" music even at his cheeriest. Still, Whisperings at Nightfall earns its title with only one track breaking out of the mood which I refer to as "late autumn music." None of these comments are meant as a criticism; in fact, I love nearly this entire album. I'm just defining the CD's music to distinguish it from Ackerman's ever-growing cannon as producer Note: Ackerman shares producing credits on this album with Corin Nelsen, who engineered and mastered the disc.

The usual cast of guest artists is scattered throughout the recording, although Linton offers up three solo guitar songs, too. Eugene Friesen's haunting cello work on Autumn Moon adds the perfect shading to Linton's quietly pensive fingerstyle playing, although why use Friesen so sparingly? More..please! The title track unites Linton's gentle lonely guitar with Noah Wilding's wordless vocals (Wilding's vocals are always so well integrated with the music on Ackerman's productions). The one relatively "boisterous" track is next. Within the Outline starts off quietly but builds by adding O’Hearn-esque echoed percussion (Derrik Jordan) and spirited (yet less joyful than the tempo might dictates) violin (Tracy Silverman). While I use the term "boisterous" to describe this track, in all honesty, the "oomph" only stands out in contrast to the overall somberness of everything else here. It's only boisterous by comparison, not objectively so.

You’d expect songs with titles like Silent Hollow (guitar, violin and Michael Manring’s bass), Flowing Echo (guitar and bass) or Field of Lilies (T-Bone Wolk on bass, Jill Haley on English horn, Ackerman on guitar, and Wilding' vocals) to be subdued pieces, but "Field.." is less melancholic than most of the others here (and again, that statement is not judgmental, since I love sad music; it's only meant to describe the mood).

The three solo guitar numbers are the equal of those with accompanists. The opening Candlelight is delicate yet with a slight sprightliness and I detect a hint of classical guitar influence as well. Wait Until When has the feel of a sad ballad; in fact, (and I don't recall ever writing this before about any piece of instrumental music), I could see the right lyrics and singer turning this into a tremendous folk song. Closing the album is the ultra-moody (perfect!) Moonlit Rainfall, a song exemplifying the approach Linton (who wrote all ten tracks) and producer Ackerman took on the album, which I would describe as beautifully sad. In some ways, this CD is emotionally similar to the music of Tim Story (circa Beguiled) and (in his earlier days) Mychael Danna (see his album with Paul Clement, North of Niagara), except they are pianists/keyboardists, not guitarists. Note to the artist: When I start comparing you to Story or Danna, to quote the worn-out phrase, it doesn’t get any better than that. On second thought, though, maybe who I should compare Linton to is his own producer, hmmm? While most of Will Ackerman's recordings are solo works, Whisperings at Nightfall resonates on the same emotional level with me as did Ackerman's recent career retrospective, Returning. Both are damn near flawless recordings (while I can't fault the more energetic Within the Outline on its own merits, I don't necessarily agree with including it on this release). Despite the tiny nit I'm picking, this is a great recording. Recommended without reservation to all acoustic guitar instrumental lovers provided they like music on the soft, gentle and, particularly, sad side.

Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 5/20/2008
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