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Beyond Boundaries: Guitar Solos

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Album Review

Released just over a year after 2000's Best of Michael Hedges — an album with which this shares a whopping eight tracks — Beyond Boundaries is a collection of 19 instrumentals featuring Hedges' distinctive acoustic fretwork. The final three tunes are previously unreleased live recordings (minus an audience) tacked on for the fans who already have everything else, but aren't essential unless you're a die-hard collector. Otherwise this is a dependable and judiciously picked compilation of Hedges' guitar stylings, chosen from all of his albums except the vocal-dominated The Road to Return and Watching My Life Go By. Far too aggressive to be categorized as new age — a term the guitarist rightly disowned — the music here is melodic, exciting, and vibrant, completely free of any snoozy tendencies. Since the disc focuses on Hedges' six-string technique, the songs are a bit busier, especially concert recordings "The Funky Avocado" and the jazzy "Jitterboogie," but the pyrotechnics always serve the melodies. Mixed with ballads like the touching "Bensusan" and the dreamy "Chava's Song" (where he adds piano), the album succeeds as a sampler of Hedges' mature and varied instrumental approach. Excellent as a primer for budding guitarists as well as an efficient starter kit for anyone who appreciates sophisticated and often complex acoustic guitar music that incorporates strains of folk, classical, jazz, and yes, new age touches, this is a superb place to start a Michael Hedges collection, especially for those wary of his patchy vocals. Established listeners who already own the bulk of these songs can pass on this, however, since the three closing rare tracks aren't revelatory.


Born: 31 December 1953 in Sacramento, CA

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s

One of the most innovative and acclaimed solo guitarists of his era, self-described "violent acoustic" artist Michael Hedges rose to success on the strength of a unique performing style that utilized harmonics and picking to create the impression of multiple guitars playing simultaneously. Born in Sacramento, CA, in 1953, Hedges studied classical guitar while in college, subsequently earning a degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. In 1980, he enrolled in Stanford University's...
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Beyond Boundaries: Guitar Solos, Michael Hedges
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