Just Do What it Says

Just Listen

Pat Kirtley (Mainstring Records)

By Bob Mitchell

It's a new century and it's a new Pat Kirtley. Just Listen is an acoustic finger-style guitar release showcasing a wide range of talent and styles. With eleven original tracks, five of them for solo guitar and three covers, Kirtley's depth and technique continue to improve and there is no doubt this is his best effort to date. In 1997 Acoustic Guitar Magazine named Pat as one of thirty "essential acoustic artists," and projects like this one will ensure that his name stays on the list.

For the most part, each of Kirtley's previous releases was a solo guitar effort, but this time he surrounds himself with outstanding musicians. Australian legend and super-picker Tommy Emmanuel provides incredible backup and out front work on John and Johanna Halls' soothing "Sails" and a relaxing "Wasn't It You." One of my favorite tracks is "Michael and Monica," featuring Nickel Creek mandolinist Chris Thile. Jazz finger-stylist Craig Wagner joins Pat on a subtle yet driving arrangement of "Miss You Like Crazy." This track is perhaps the most unusual selection because of Wagner's seven string Buscarino archtop. Sara Watkin's fiddle lends a soft touch to "Fiddler's Last Waltz," Kirtley's lilting tribute to Randy Howard.

The most remarkable departure from Pat's previous recordings is the addition of a swinging rhythm section that knows how and when to flow with every nuance of a song's soul. "San Tristo" is a warm and sultry Latin track, which has some outstanding work from Egyptian guitarist Saleh Hasan. "Del Coronado" is also a light-hearted Latin tune that lifts your spirits. Another of my favorite cuts is Kirtley's beautiful bossa nova "Paqueta." Superb is the only word that comes close to describing percussionists K.C. Morris and Earnest Dillion. And work from bassists Jeff Doiron and Bryon House is rock solid. Two additionally captivating selections include Kirtley's thoughtful arrangement of Cyndi Lauper's lovely "Time After Time" and "Closer To You," a poignant, tender love song for Kirtley's wife, Joyce.

Pat Kirtley continues to explore a variety of tunings, techniques, and rhythms. This CD projects Kirtley to the next step on his journey toward becoming the consummate music professional. This is a new age for him. Anyone who loves the sound of an acoustic guitar needs to have a copy of Just Listen.

For more information about Pat's music and schedule, contact him through www.win.net/mainstring.