his own notes to this CD, Jim Earp says: "My passion of late has been
arranging vocal-based material for guitar" and that passion has
certainly paid off. This wonderful collection of stylishly played songs
is one of the most melodically enjoyable guitar CDs I have heard.
Earp has the technique to make his playing sound effortless, but he
also has a rare melodic sense that he uses to virtually sing through
his guitar. Melody is always front and center, without any loss of
interest in accompaniment. This man plays like a well-balanced
ensemble! His playing is consistently full and rich, so much so that my
only minor qualm is that more breaks in the texture would be nice. But
this minor quibble should not distract from the fine playing on the CD.
The album gets off to a promising start with an
enigmatic beginning that plays with the chord progression and gives
hints of the melody before resolving into a swinging groove for a
memorable interpretation of Eleanor Rigby. The melody
is all there, as are the most memorable parts of the string
accompaniment, but Jim Earp has managed to translate the song into a
very guitaristic version. Credit has to be given to Joe Rathburn for
the great arrangement, but it is Jim Earp who does a terrific job of
bringing it to life here. This is a thoroughly engaging interpretation,
right up to the very last, very cool chord.
Next comes Moondance, a great original arrangement that I mentioned in my review of the My Favorite Martin
CD as one of its highlights. It is nothing short of a joy to hear it
again, and I know that a lot of guitarists are going to be testing
their ear on lifting this one!
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
is a slower and more straight-ahead arrangement of a classic tune. This
is an excellent example of Mr. Earp's ability to shape his playing to
the tune much like a vocalist would.
Kiss From a Rose
is another lovely ballad that makes the most of the DADGAD tuning. Jim
Earp varies his accompaniment from bare octaves to rich chords, weaving
an ever fuller tapestry of sound that never overpowers the simple
beauty of the melody.
You Are So Beautiful
is another straight-ahead ballad, played simply but effectively. The
capo on the second fret gives the song a lighter feel that suits its
A great surprise comes with a change-up in tempo. You Can't Hurry Love
sounds as if it were written for solo guitar, so convincing is Jim
Earp's arrangement. Again judicious use of the capo pitches this song
at the optimal range for the tune to shine.
Banks and Braes
is a traditional Scottish tune, played here in an arrangement by Tony
McManus. Mr. Earp plays this song without affectation but with obvious
Sunflower River Blues
presents a new soundscape with its open C tuning that stretches the low
end of Mr. Earp's Martin guitar. While the lower strings anchor the
tune with a solid bass line, the melody dances out over a shimmer of
chords that make the most of the open strings.
When I first listened to this CD, I was definitely not expecting the Allman Brothers to show up, but then on came Little Martha.
This Duane Allman song sounds great as a solo guitar tune, and the open
D tuning lets the melody ring out and even leap up into harmonics when
Jim Earp takes a mind to. Once again the melody is the star of the show
Definitely, the biggest surprise of this whole CD is the oustanding version of Gold Dust Woman
that Jim Earp arranged along with Greg Campbell. If arranging such a
well known song with so many layers of Lindsey Buckingham's guitars on
it would seem daunting to most guitarists, the solution here follows
the other arrangements on this CD: be true to the melody, set the mood,
keep all of the important musical parts, and make sure it sits
naturally on the guitar. Oh yeah, and play it perfectly too. This track
is a highlight of the CD. The ending is a lot of fun too (name that
The Water Is Wide follows as
another straightforward beautiful meditation, with its timeless melody
set like a priceless gem in understated counterpoint to the
The CD ends with Jim Earp's first recorded duet, with guitarist Tom Boyer, appropriately You've Got a Friend. The second guitar adds a wonderful richness to the texture without cluttering or adding undue complexity.
summary, this is one of those rare guitar CDs that will appeal as much
to non-guitarists as to guitarists. Jim Earp plays so musically that
you can forget that this is a guitar CD and just enjoy it as music. Of
course, if you do play the guitar, there is a lot to learn from this
CD, and I am sure that I am not the only one who will be listening
closely to pick up some of Jim Earp's great arrangements.
Jim Earp “Guitar Uncovered” Solid Air Records 2007
For lovers of great popular music and as well fantastic guitar
instrumentals, Jim Earp just released “Guitar Uncovered”.
Although it is all covers, Jim Earp has made magnificent arrangements
on vocal-based material.
When you are in the Christmas mood check also Jim
Earp's CD “Bright Star.. Tiny Babe.. One Guitar", with great
Henk te Veldhuis
Bridge Guitar Reviews
people who go simply bonkers for acoustic guitar music and who will say,
"hearing a guitar played beautifully can make me cry." God bless these folks
and, if you know any people like this, you'd better tell them about Guitar
Uncovered, the latest release from local acoustic guitar guru, Jim Earp. Earp
has not only a local but also a national reputation as one of the foremost
champions of the "finger-style" approach to guitar playing. The title of this
CD is entirely appropriate because Earp seems to explore just about every sonic
possibility available on his instrument (an absolutely amazing sounding 97'
Martin SP000C-16TR, steel string). Like all virtuoso guitarists, Earp has such
complete control over his axe that it all sounds effortless, allowing the
beauty and soul of the music to truly shine.
I am not
sure if this was a conscious decision on the part of the artist, but the tracks
on this disc seem to be segmented into two categories – tunes that keep very
true to the original melody and arrangement and others that take a looser
approach and Earp takes more liberties. Both approaches work well and the
latter is employed on the opener, "Eleanor Rigby." Earp employs all kinds of
complementary counter-melodies plus jazzy passing/transitional chords that
result in a stunningly fresh rendition of this Beatles classic. Seal's "Kiss
from a Rose" stays very close to the chart, which works very nicely because
there is so much happening, harmonically, that trying to embellish would be
pointless and distracting. This is not a tune I would have expected to find on
a finger-style, solo acoustic guitar recording, but this track stands out as a
superior example of Earp's craftsmanship, as evidenced by the amazingly dead-on
rhythmic flow and silky smooth, confident phrasing. Getting back to the idea of
a guitar making someone cry, you'd better grab your handkerchiefs for "The
Water Is Wide." This lovely ballad is played with such exquisite grace and
sensitivity that you will feel every note. I loved how, toward the end of the
tune, Earp shows the patience of a master by resting just long enough to let
the song breathe, like a great conversationalist who knows when to be quiet for
a moment. "The Water Is Wide" contains some of the most beautiful guitar
playing I have heard anywhere and this track alone makes this CD worth checking
out. The presence of popular stand-bys like "Gold Dust Woman" and "Raindrops
Keep Falling on My Head" add to the feeling you'll get on this disc that you've
been brought into a very warm, familiar place. "You've Got a Friend" is the
closing track and Earp brings in another finger-style wizard, Tom Boyer, on
this one to end with the only non-solo number. This closer sounds great, but
Earp and Boyer play parts very close in register to each other, creating the
effect of a four-handed guitar player on one guitar. I would have liked to have
heard more divergent parts played on this last track (the result here is like
pouring chocolate sauce on chocolate cake…, which can have its upside, I
suppose!), but it's still great stuff.
As fans of
this genre sort through the plethora of finger-style acoustic guitarists on the
scene, Jim Earp surely must be placed towards the very top of the list of
artists that merit attention and this recording gives us Earp at the top of his