Instrumental albums featuring solo guitar can fall into three broad categories. The first would be where the artist really tries hard to show off his technique, and if it is an acoustic guitar, he is usually inspired by the legendary master John Fahey. Very often the problem with these albums is that they are all technique and no emotion or atmosphere.
The second is where they tend to end up in the dreaded New Age territory, with the music sounding like a fruit-flavored tea with too many lumps of sugar in it.
But then there’s that third category where the exceptional guitar technique is just a part of the music, melody line which combines as many elements of the American Primitive guitar as Fahey made popular, as of what is dubbed modern classical music.
And that is where we come to Brooklyn Ryan Dugré and his latest album Three Rivers. As a solo artist he might not be that familiar of a name, but he has worked as a sideman for the likes of Cass McCombs and Eleanor Friedberger (The Fiery Furnaces).
For Dugré the album started out as a composing a song-a-day exercise and turned into something that goes beyond simple compositional and plying exercise. Dugré was able to come up with musical compositions where his guitar-playing capabilities are easy to hear but are still serving the function of the music he is trying to present and not just as a pure show-off.
Essentially, on Three Rivers we get the music that is neither Fahey-style, modern classical, nor New Age, but all of those in the best sense of what they are supposed to be. Essentially, engaging late-night listening, if there is such a thing.
Ryan Dugré – ‘Three Rivers’ Reaction
Ryan Dugré delivers an acoustic guitar album that is neither Fahey-style, modern classical, nor New Age, but all of those in the best sense of what they are supposed to be.