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Counting the Ways

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Album Review

Using odd tunings, high-strung and slack-key Hawaiian lap steel set-ups, along with a refined elegance and emotion not often found in guitar solo albums of 2000, Ed Gerhard takes listeners on a lilting and moving journey through some great classics done in new and softly daring ways. Along the path, Gerhard calls on a number of old friends to help him. His pairing of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "If I Fell" and "In My Life" is brilliant and well-mixed. A dreamy slide down "Can't Help Falling in Love" makes this Elvis favorite an even more tender slow dance. Of Phil Spector's "Spanish Harlem," Gerhard asks "how the guy in the song was going to pick the rose then watch it grow in his garden." Regardless of how the rose grows, in Gerhard's care it blossoms abundantly. For his version of Mississippi John Hurt's "My Creole Belle," Gerhard picks a loose first-take duet with friend and fellow minstrel Arlo Guthrie. The rest of the album consists of traditional American pieces, such as a concluding pick through "The Water Is Wide," as well as some more foreign yet no less acquainted choices, such as the English ballad "Willy O' Winsbury," the African romance "Malaika" (which hints of Dire Straits' "Why Worry" and The Beach Boys' "Be True to Your School"), and the Hawaiian goodbye song "Isa Lei." Every song is a stirring aural caress played by a talented and humorous performer.

Counting the Ways, Ed Gerhard
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