John Sheehan – Notes From Suburbia

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The 13 pieces on John Sheehan’s latest CD, wryly titled “Notes from Suburbia”, offer a wealth of finger picking as they reflect on human experience — from the revealing nature of dreams to the discovery of the awe-inspiring in the mundane. John Sheehan is a guitarist of unusual and varied accomplishment. “Notes from Suburbia” is John’s third CD and it is diverse, including Renaissance lute pieces, a guitar arrangement of a traditional Irish harp tune and candid songs influenced by jazz, blues and to a lesser degree, eastern music. All of these ingredients form a showcase for expressive, smart and forceful guitar playing. “Notes” opens with ‘Desert Prayer’ an ethereal instrumental reflection on events following the September 11, 2001 tragedy incorporating the blues and a melody suggestive of North Indian devotional music. With tabla accompaniment, ‘Last Night in a Dream’ — a song about the consciousness-expanding power of dreams — is reminiscent of a 1992 collaboration between blues guitarist Ry Cooder and the Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Throughout “Notes” John employs a sophisticated variety of chords in his arrangements of songs and instrumentals. ‘Together we Dream’ is a moody contemporary fingerstyle piece. ‘Cabin Fever’, a driving, acrobatic boogie of ascending and descending licks and chords, leaves you breathless. (It should really be witnessed live to be believed.) The CD’s final song, ‘All Around Me Now’ brings to light John’s ability to draw inspiration from the natural world, as well as his ongoing fascination with mushrooms. This regard for nature, along with John’s lack of cynicism and his respect for the aspirations of the individual, makes me feel that in addition to being a great guitar album, the songwriting on “Notes” has a kinship with New England transcendentalism. And in these politically and economically uncertain times, appreciation of the transcendental is unquestionably an American sensibility worth nurturing. [by Laura Turner Lynch | www]

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