We are truly in a golden age of blindingly skilled, yet unshowy guitarists. To a list that includes Mark Kozelek and RM Hubbert we can now add Dubliner John Lambert, otherwise known as Chequerboard. Though he has help from Kevin Murphy (Set the First) and Kate Ellis (Crash Ensemble) on occasional cellos, it’s mostly about Lambert’s guitar.
The music here is mainly classically-based guitar. Opener Dunes is the sound of cold, early mornings and the sun rising over big, open spaces. In other words Lambert’s guitar is joined by Murphy and Ellis’ cellos halfway through to create genuinely beautiful music. Elsewhere, the medieval, Celtic sounding Opening the Gates has echoes of The Edge at his most gentle.
Lambert’s nimble fingerpicking takes a breather halfway through on Obelisk, which utilises subtle guitar whines and wind sounds to act as a sort of palette-cleanser. Kestrel Rising features prominent keyboards alongside Lambert’s almost harp-like guitar, which returns to centre stage on the gorgeous Today Is Beautiful, We Have Things To Do, set off nicely by more cellos. There’s not a bum note to be found here. It finishes with A Field of Night, gently undulating like the sea, with the soft cooing of Eileen Carpio.
Right across the album, Stephen Shannon’s sensitive production allows the nine tracks room to breathe. This album certainly won’t be for everybody but for those looking to spread a little aural sunlight across their weary cochlea, this is highly recommended. It’s available from Bandcamp.
2. Opening The Gates
3. The Sorrow Bird
4. Like A Bell To A Southerly Wind
6. Kestrel Ring
7. Today Is Beautiful, We Have Things To Do
8. The Unfolding
9. A Field Of Night