Because instrumental guitar music often contains no singing, it can be a challenge to draw a listener in who is accustomed to the sound of voices in music. Stewart Garry, one of the UK’s most promising fingerstyle acoustic guitar talents, has accepted the challenge of engaging all listeners, even those accustomed to the voice, by exploring what it means to develop as a musician under the influence of ‘place.’ Sojourner is more than just another acoustic guitar album; it’s a film adventure through the musical realm of Stewart Garry. The upcoming May 16th release of this album will include both a DVD and an audio CD, and while one can listen to the thoughtful compositions on the audio CD alone, the immersive effect of the DVD will propel listeners along an intimate journey through Garry’s history and artistry.
The tracks on the album, all recorded live in varying locations throughout the UK, boast their brilliance through each location’s noticeable effect on Garry’s performance. Garry’s organic approach is one of the best attempts at reaching a listener on a level that isn’t just a studio-produced, sonic landscape, but is instead an actual rendering of the artist’s relationship with place, time, and real life. The external sound factors, such as church reverberations, birds singing, and rain falling (and is that the scent of oak barrels in the whiskey distillery?) conveys nothing but true musical life. In “After the Rain,” Garry makes it easy to feel the world through his music’s presence as the crux and ballast of a rainy day.
Sojourner is not a solo journey. This is obvious through the presence of the production crew, and the addition of collaborative pieces such as “Patience is a Virtue,” a contemplative duet that enlists a lovely violin performance. “Life is Loud,” in which Garry pairs his funky guitar lines with his brother’s quirky and inspirational poetry, gives us a wonderful example of family bonds and their impact on our creativity. It reveals just how much external involvement there can be in creating solo art. Experiencing the interaction between the two brothers is a true gem and instills some of the best feelings a listener can hope to receive through a listening experience.
Nostalgia is a heavy token arching over the entire album, and it is perhaps that which makes Garry’s compositions so unique and touching. In a world full of talented technical guitarists, finding the means to convey the human condition to a listener is a task not executed so successfully by all. Garry’s Sojourner is sure to secure him a place among the musical explorers who have found their ways to the listener’s minds, souls, and hearts.