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Throughout the Autumn Light by Robert Linton

Falling softly like leaves from a tree, the first gentle notes glide effortlessly from Robert Linton’s guitar creating an ambience that is perfectly described in the title of his latest CD. This atmosphere continues throughout the album and is captured in song names like “Glistening after the Mist”, “Shifting to the Fall”, “Seasons of Years Past”, and “Evening Sunset.”

Robert’s instrument of choice is the nylon string acoustic guitar, which he tends to pluck fingerstyle, rather than strum, providing a harp-like sonority, which I found quite heavenly and relaxing. In fact, if you are looking for the perfect soundtrack for a mellow Sunday morning, you couldn’t do much better than this.

Complimenting the guitar with Zen-like brush strokes of sound are some wonderfully talented instrumentalists with impressive recording credentials in their own right. Among them are Jill Haley (English Horn), Stephen Katz (Cello), Tracy Silverman (Violin), Jeff Oster (Flugelhorn), and Jeff Pearce (E-Bow Guitar). This last instrument, which may not be as familiar, involves playing the guitar with a hand-held device that creates an electro-magnetic field around the string which gives it infinite sustain and provides a violin-like quality. I found the yin yang combination of this along with the acoustic guitar particularly pleasing. Although Robert is accompanied by some top-notch recording artists, their sonic colors are applied sparingly, allowing the guitar to be the primary pigment in the musical palate.

Another noteworthy name on this project is Grammy Award winning producer and engineer Corin Nelson – a close associate and frequent collaborator with Windham Hill Records founder and guitarist Will Ackerman. Interestingly, despite his relatively remote Maine location, Corin seems to be one of the most in-demand producers in this genre of music and whose name has been appearing on a significant number of new releases I have been receiving for review recently. Not surprisingly, “Throughout the Autumn Light” has that pastel, acoustic quality that so many have found appealing about Windham Hill releases over the years.

Listeners lulled by Robert’s mellow musings on this CD, might be surprised to know that his early six string explorations were as much influenced by the electric energy of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix as by the folk leanings of Cat Stevens and Simon & Garfunkel. However, none of that swirling psychedelia is evident here. Robert has truly found his niche and there is a comforting continuity from one song to the next on the recording.

This album definitely captures the feeling of Autumn in that it’s melodies are more introspective and reflective, like a world preparing for the calm of Winter, rather than portraying the bright buzzing energy of Spring or Summer. In this music, one can almost hear the sound of fallen leaves crunching underfoot while strolling along a forest path on an October morn.  Robert Linton has the artistic acuity to convey a particular mood in a way that envelops the listener and draws them into his space for the duration of the recording. His guitar playing is sensitive, deft, and evocative, providing a gentle journey you’ll want to embark upon often.

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