Reviewed by: Naomi DeBruyn House of Guitars by Ed Gerhard
Okay, I’m going to be straight with you. This is most assuredly the best acoustic guitar disc I have ever heard, and after hearing it, perhaps the only one I ever want to listen to again. That sums up my thoughts and feelings about this incredible collection of 11 tracks, however, you will be wanting more than that, I am sure.
Ed Gerhard is a guitar genius, and impossible to categorize. He easily slides, picks, and strums his way through the genres, creating his own hybrid of incredible string harmonies. Each and every arrangement, be it an original piece or a cover tune, exudes talent and encourages the listener to relax and let the music carry you away. There is a quiet intensity here which is extremely potent and alluring, the magic of the guitar when handled by a master of the strings.
The opening track is one of Ed’s impressive original composition’s, and “Promised Land” is the perfect warm and inviting piece to attract the listener. The Hawaiian guitar is included on this impressive piece. The melody makes me think of puddles of sunshine, and it just gives out a comforting and relaxing ‘vibe,’ allowing the listener to relax and be carried away. This piece is reprised at the end of the disc, and with a surprising clarity of resonance — it is almost as if you were part of the guitar. So close and pure is the sound.
An almost new age ambience is achieved with the opening notes of “Shallow Brown.” The opening notes are vaguely bell-like in their lightly chiming tones. This stretches out into a solid and gentle piece, as a plaintive melody is pulled from the instrument by Ed’s deft finger play. This track is one which the listener can find them self lost within the notes … all too easily!
“I Just Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes” is a definite Blues track, originally composed by Blind Willie Johnson. Gerhard plays it with incredible feeling, the tones are rich and lay heavily upon the air pulling you along with an almost hypnotic intensity. There is a gritty primal undercurrent running through this piece, with lap steel and slide easily picked out of the harmonizing strings.
With this disc, Ed states that “my sole aim on this album was to rediscover the thrill of my first guitar through these forgotten instruments.”
I hope he achieved that goal for himself, for the rest of us, it is a pleasant disc of great guitar playing. All of the guitars used on this disc are cheap, outgrown pieces of the past, complete with their own sound effects – buzzing and hissing, etc. In one case, the strings were 35 years old – and aside from tuning, Ed didn’t even change a string unless he had to. An incredible piece of work, and one which belongs in the music library of any guitar lover!
- Promised Land
- Poor Wayfaring Stranger
- Try to Stay
- Because of You, This
- I Will
- Shallow Brown
- Farther Along
- I Just Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes
- Let It Be Me
- Promised Land (reprise)