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My Garden State

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Album Review

Guitarist and seasoned improviser Glenn Jones is a self-professed disciple of John Fahey and the types of rural-leaning guitar styles often dubbed "American Primitive." With My Garden State, Jones spins ten instrumentals with alternately tuned and experimentally capoed acoustic guitars, banjo, and occasional field recordings. Following the banjo-heavy Barbecue Bob in Fishtown and 2011's more stylistically varied The Wanting, My Garden State seems more of a single-minded vision, with its meandering compositions interlocking to cultivate a peaceful, sometimes somber mood. The woozy, subtly echoed dirge of "Blues for Tom Carter" and the lonesome shut-in banjo of the title track tend more toward the heavy-hearted side of the album, but fit as nice counterpoints to more hopeful moments like the patient open-tuned strums of "Alcouer Gardens." Standout track "Across the Tappan Zee" slowly grows from a traditionally influenced banjo figure, eventually opening up with accompaniment from a second banjo spreading generously across the stereo field, conjuring up soft memories of imagined childhoods in New Jersey summers. Conversely, "Like a Sick Eagle Looking at the Sky" stretches across its almost eight minutes with a lurching, improvised feel, sturdy and rooted with the same presence as old men observing a frantic world from their stoops. My Garden State, much like many of Jones' efforts, is a thoughtful and evocative exploration of the limitations of traditional guitar and banjo and his own unique lens on the work begun by Fahey, et al. More cohesive and profound at times than the records that preceded it, the album sets a tone masterfully, and lingers contentedly and without rush, allowing the listener to drop in and sit for a spell with Jones as he ruminates on his various lush instrumental moods.


Born: October 1, 1953 in Spokane, WA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Founding member of the enigmatic indie instrumental group Cul de Sac, Glenn Jones started playing guitar at age 14, opening the door on what would be a decades-long journey into inventive and exploratory sounds. Along with fellow Boston experimental musician Robin Amos, Jones formed Cul de Sac in 1990. The two would be the only constant members throughout the band's lifespan. Over the next two decades, the band would release a plethora of albums, singles, and EPs, focusing almost entirely on instrumental...
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