When it comes to acoustic fingerpicking, it’s either going to be unbelievably good or really fucking terrible. A good record can convey the feeling of an empty forest. It can burn you like whiskey and then float away like smoke. In its rawness and honesty, there’s nothing else like it. You’ve heard it in the background if you’ve ever watched Brokeback Mountain or Paris, Texas. But, fuck me, when it’s bad it’s baaaad. It’s some of the worst music to ever vibrate the air. You can be one of the greatest technical guitarists on earth and still suck major balls at acoustic fingerpicking. Actually, a technical master stroking his ego through a fretboard in this style sounds about as pleasant to the ear as that one time you were 10 and you heard your parents fucking. This shit takes someone willing to listen to the environment around them, someone that intuitively uses guitar strings to express the deepest of their desires, and someone with the ability to leave that perfect amount of silence between each note. Technical proficiency, though necessary, is secondary to it all. John Fahey was a legend at it. Hell, he’s one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived. Some might even go so far to call him a giant.
But who the fuck is Glenn Jones?
If you dig into the story of John Fahey, you’ll eventually hit Glenn Jones. They were friends for 25 years, not to mention, they played together. Back in ’97, Fahey even released the album The Epiphany of Glenn Jones. How much closer can you fucking get? The album was released under John’s name. But it’s John, Glenn, and Glenn’s band Cul de Sac (an incredibly underrated band: check it) that make up this album. Glenn soaked up as much John as he could. And now Glenn continues in this style, not just for himself, but for the friend he lost back in that terrible year of ’01.
This album isn’t showy. It doesn’t dazzle you with crazy antics. It can’t. It won’t. And it shouldn’t. Because acoustic fingerpicking, though it sounds eerily simple, is almost impossible to get right. It has to stream out smoother than a river in order to sound half-decent. When you’re listening to Glenn, you get the feeling that you’re in a cabin in the middle of woods. There’s a nice toasty fire in the fireplace. You’re drinking the world’s greatest cup of coffee out of a tin cup. The chair you’re sitting in rocks. So you gently rock the chair back and forth as you look at the fireplace and into the flames. You sigh, and when you do, the tension in your shoulders and back magically unknots. This music is deeply healing. It transports. It’s as honest as a hunk of wood and as beautiful as a sunrise. This is American Primitivism at its finest.