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Album Review

When one thinks of instrumental rock guitar, a variety of styles come to mind. One is fingerpicker music — that is, acoustic folk-rock guitarists like Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Peter Lang, Michael Gulezian, Stefan Grossman, and Robbie Basho. Another is the Steve Vai/Joe Satriani/Randy Coven school of electric hard rock shredders — flamboyant, ostentatious, high-voltage axemen with a hell-bent-for-chops virtuosity. And there is also '60s surf guitar. So where does guitar-playing instrumentalist Rich Stein fit in? Actually, Unspoken cannot really be lumped in with any of those three guitar schools. The guitar playing that Stein offers on this CD is neither surf rock nor hard rock, and even though one hears some of that Fahey/Kottke/Lang influence in his folk-rock approach, Stein is not a true picker, either. Stein moves back and forth between acoustic and electric guitar on this CD, and a real picker would not be playing so much electric guitar — the acoustic guitar is the instrument that makes authentic picker music what it is. So when all is said and done, Unspoken manages to bring something that is fairly fresh-sounding to instrumental folk-rock guitar music — something that is picker-influenced but is not true state-of-the-art picker music, either (certainly not if one is an acoustic purist when it comes to that style). Yes, people like Fahey, Kottke, Lang, and Basho have had a positive impact on Stein's playing — it is obvious that he is well aware of their contributions, but at the same time, anyone who expects Unspoken to sound like a carbon copy of a Fahey or Lang album is bound to be disappointed. The bottom line is that Stein is very much his own man, and that spirit of individualism serves him well on this enjoyable disc.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Fluent on both the electric and acoustic guitar, Pittsburgh native Rich Stein is a folk-rock instrumentalist who has brought a variety of influences to his work, such as the fingerpicker school of acoustic folk-rock guitar; that is, acoustic guitar-playing instrumentalists like John Fahey, Leo Kottke and Peter Lang. However, Stein can't be totally lumped in with the fingerpickers. While Kottke, Lang and the late Fahey are obvious influences, Stein has been quoted as saying that he is "equally influenced"...
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Unspoken, Rich Stein
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