We are living in a time of great ease. Push button times you might call them. We are able to order food, booze, clothing, couches, etc., right to our doorsteps with just a click of a button. It’s so effortless it almost doesn’t seem fair. And though I am unworthy of casting the first stone against all this sometimes the curmudgeon in me privately rails against this push button world and rages about all the as yet unnoticed chaos it is likely to cause.
Thankfully there are still some people who do things the old fashioned way and one of those people is the Los Angeles by way of Minnesota guitarist John Schroeder whose latest solo acoustic effort entitled Strikes Twelve is an album of intricate simplicity and also a lot of hard work.
Schroeder’s aren’t button pushing fingers but rather picking fingers, which in this case pick out notes on a twelve string acoustic guitar, over five instrumental recordings ranging from country and folk to flamenco and bluesy rock. A graduate of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music John has spent time as a studio musician and also touring with Frankie Valli and Pomplamoose as well as making music with the guitar/harmonica duo the Sheriffs of Schroedingham.
But working alone here on Strikes Twelve Schroeder reminds listeners just how rewarding effort and patience can be. These five tracks, three originals and two covers are distilled down, one hears every string being plucked, the successive notes, bouncing around and reverberating off one another like Bingo balls.
Strikes Twelve opens with “Open Sea” which starts off slowly and over the course of time builds to swells of crisp finger picked beauty reminiscent of the acoustic hum and fervor Nick Drake leavened Five Leaves Left with. Next we are treated to the somber “Turning Time” with its crushingly beautiful roils of slow dose finger picked melodies and soft moments of near silence, it’s a song on which one can metaphorically see the brushstrokes of Schroeder’s compositions. The six minute masterpiece “Walkabout” is perhaps the crown jewel of the record however. Here we hear a man set loose in his element and producing a gale-force acoustic tune.
John Schroeder’s Strikes Twelve is an excellent reminder that so many things are worth the wait. These songs were forged over time, poured over and reworked in an effort to make something lasting, to make something that has real staying power.
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