London, Ontario, Canada guitarist Michael Trudgen has been playing the guitar for twenty-five years. Just take a moment to let that sink in. Twenty-five years. That’s a quarter of a freakin’ century. He had some classes in classical guitar as well as six years of piano lessons so needless to say he’s got his stuff down.
The thing about Trudgen though is that he has always preferred his own melodies to that of others and has widely shunned covers. This is an extra special caveat which gave him confidence as he came in second place (four votes short of first as the legend goes) for a competition in his hometown which featured sixteen solo and folk acts. Oh and the other caveat is that Michael Trudgen doesn’t sing, nor does anyone else. Yep it’s just folksy acoustic guitar.
I found myself at a bit of a personal crossroads as I listened to Michael Trudgen’s eponymous debut record. I am no stranger to reviewing solo performers and I am also no stranger to reviewing instrumental bands. However electronic music producers aside I have never before reviewed something quite like this. I’ll admit I didn’t really know how to proceed, given that all twelve tracks on the record at the first few listens sort of blended together. But after a time they began to become, like cells reproducing, each of them separate entities of quiet genius and brilliance. I began to embrace the moods and marvel in the ways in which just five strings, picked in such a way could be so different.
The record’s opening track “Pots and Pans” is quick paced and intricate as a spiders web. Its tones and rhythms move the listener to the same highs and lows that any other song with lyrics and tempo would. Nothing is lost here. Without stop we then morph into the quixotic and scuffling dirge-like “Clumsy Foot” which then digresses to the slow and somber “Nothing Lost,” which has a bit of an alt country twang to it.
Later we get a bit of pop-centric airiness reminiscent of early Red House painters on “Morning Sunshine” a bit of low-fi twang on the short and sweet “EH CANADA” which then gives way to the Simon and Garfunkel-esque “The Last Run.” The album closes with the country-ish “Two by Two.”
As a man who makes a partial living as a writer I am biting the hand that feeds me in a sense to say that words are cheap. But honestly they usually are. It could be argued that some people shouldn’t be allowed to open their mouths but perhaps that’s getting off topic. The point is here is that Michael Trudgen’s debut is a virtual masters class of finger picked guitar songs.
There are certain writers who are known as “writer’s writers,” who are known for not being so well known by the public but revered by those who are well known as the real masters of their craft. I would classify Michael Trudgen as a guitarist’s guitarist.” Anyone who really loves the craft of the guitar will admire this record, and I, who cannot play a note to save my life, am also in awe.
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