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Box Canyon

Nick Schillace

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Album Review

On his debut album, Nick Schillace fully embraces the resurgent solo acoustic guitar tradition codified by John Fahey — not for nothing is the penultimate song a cover of that legend's "Red Pony." But his self-placement in the tradition acknowledged, Schillace's album is a good first step for the performer's formally recorded work, showing that he has an ear for atmosphere as well as quietly addictive melodies. The opening "A Walk Through the Field" captures this all very well — it has the feeling of the title itself, a slow rural ramble centered around a steady melody that flows easily, perfectly hummable by the time the song winds down. Many other songs on Box Canyon aim for the quicker, surging performances that so often thrill the field's devotees and rightly so; songs like "Green Green Grass" and "A Mighty Fink" practically sparkle with nimble life, as it's clear that Schillace is no slouch on his instrument, while as before keeping the focus on a core melody interspersed with brief countermelodies in turn. Meanwhile, the more exploratory feeling that Fahey and his peers helped bring to wider attention get overt nods as well, particularly on the multi-part "Ruminations on Cambridge/McGill," which finds Schillace deftly moving between a variety of paces and melodies while returning to and finishing on a minimal note just so. In all, Box Canyon makes for a fine splash and holds the distinct hint of even better yet to come.

Box Canyon, Nick Schillace
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