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Throughout the Autumn Light
By Robert Linton
Label: October Moon Records
Released 2/8/2011
Throughout the Autumn Light tracks
1. Throughout the Autumn Light
2. Drifting Reflections
3. Alongside the Silhouettes
4. Seasons of Years Past
5. Glistening after the Mist
6. Shifting to the Fall
7. Winds Swaying the Trees
8. Moments of Reverie
9. Sweet Dreams
10. Evening Sunset
Throughout the Autumn Light
When an artist releases an album as good as Robert Linton's previous recording, Whisperings at Nightfall, I wonder what will happen with the next CD. Will it equal its predecessor or disappoint? Will it underscore the promise of the earlier artistry or betray it? I was only a few minutes into my first playing of Throughout the Autumn Light when I realized that Linton had not only trumped the success of Whisperings at Nightfall but had recorded and released an album that is going to land on any self-respecting critic's "Best of 2011" list come January of 2012. I know it will be on mine.

Retaining the services of ace engineer Corin Nelsen, who worked on Whisperings.., but taking over the reins of production (along with Nelsen) from the highly esteemed Will Ackerman (who helmed Whisperings..), Linton proves that he is as accomplished at riding herd over an album as well as writing and performing on it. Bringing along some of the same stellar accompanists who sometimes grace Imaginary Road Studios recorded efforts, such as Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Jill Haley on English horn, and Tracy Silverman on violin, and adding one of my favorites, Jeff Pearce on E-bow guitar, Linton fleshes out the ten tracks on the CD with a deft touch, applying just the right amount of "extras" to further enrich his exquisite acoustic guitar playing.

Throughout the Autumn Light is ideal "autumnal" music, overflowing with a gentle somberness, tinged with warmth and friendliness but also carrying a mood of reflection and, sometimes, melancholy. Linton plays with a nuance and delicacy that is both intimate and inviting, as if he was playing for you, the listener, alone in a room. His guitar is expertly recorded - every note and chord is crystal clear, as are the contributions from the accompanists. The music seams to wend its way into your soul, carrying you to a place of restfulness but also of remembrance and, at times, subtle regret. Each track reinforces the overall soft plaintive mood of the CD with nary a disruption in tempo or style. However, with the presence of the guest artists, monotony doesn't creep into the songs at all - a cohesive artistic vision is self-evident to the attentive listener.

The title track opens the CD with Linton's evocative guitar matched by Stephen Katz's cello - one can almost imagine the music being a soundtrack for a walk through the woods in the golden light of an autumn afternoon. Drifting Reflections conveys a more somber mood with Haley's English horn counterpointing Linton's guitar perfectly. Pearce appears on the haunting Glistening after the Mist, coloring Linton's acoustic guitar notes with subtle shadings from his textural E-bow. Moments of Reverie is brushed lightly by a neo-classical influence and a hint of Spanish flavor - but just a whisper, really. Oster joins Linton on the closing Evening Sunset and it's a sublime, soothing conclusion to one of the most relaxing and beautiful albums I've heard in the last year.

It would seem that Robert Linton learned (or absorbed) a lot from working with Will Ackerman on his previous CD, as Throughout the Autumn Light matches any of Ackerman's releases that I have heard. Bold words to be sure, but that is how good this CD is as far as I'm concerned. If you are a fan of soft, introspective acoustic guitar instrumentals, this should positively be your next purchase, bar none. Likewise, if you favor music that speaks to the quieter emotions and the subtler moods, Throughout the Autumn Light will likely hold you spellbound by its relative simplicity (which belies its rich emotional texture and sincere evocations) and its sepia-toned soundscapes which are imagistic of all that makes the autumn season a favorite of so many people. I recommend the CD with no reservations whatsoever for all fans of acoustic instrumental music.
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 6/3/2011
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