Notes from Mark:
I heard a wide range of music in my early years, from Beethoven to Louis Armstrong to Pete Seeger; but there was always a place in my heart for a well crafted pop tune. With this collection I have included well-known popular songs that share the enduring human theme of love.
The approach to love can be from different perspectives: ranging from the deep rapture of "I Only Have Eyes for You" to the belligerent posturing of "Breakdown". Since all the songs are presented in fingerstyle instrumental settings - no lyrics - the feeling needs to come through in the music only. These tunes succeed. It has been a pleasure to arrange and record them, and they are all fun to play. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Love Songs for Guitar
is a fine collection of beautiful love songs that is meant for you to
enjoy listening to rather than being over-awed by the guitarist's
chops. These are straightforward, rich, "lovely" arrangements of
fantastic songs. To make this accessible to guitarists and
non-guitarists alike, Mark Hanson keeps the focus on the love songs, so
much so that you might find yourself surprised when some of his playing
magic happens to catch your ear. Don't be fooled - he has complete
control of his instrument, and the music, at all times! (As for his
playing chops, they are there, but they really come to the fore on his
'twin' CD Great American Songbook for Guitar!)
From the very start with his version of Something,
Hanson treats us to a full, rich sound that perfectly complements his
impressive arrangement. His command of tone colour shows up in the
beautiful shift of tone for the 'instrumental' of the song. Then there
are the sparkling harmonics that set off the final verse. Fine yet
unobtrusive playing at its best.
Don't Know Why
captures all of the lassitude of the original by Norah Jones, but with
an underlying pulse that keeps it moving gently forward. Subtle
variations keep things interesting, and lead up to a very fine ending.
For a change of pace, we next get a swinging version of Isn't She Lovely
that carries the verve of Stevie Wonder's original. Once again we have
a full, rich guitar tone that signals a great job recording this CD,
and pays tribute to the production talents of Mark Hanson and James
Another rich ballad follows: Best of My Love.
In keeping with the aesthetic of this CD, Hanson does not overplay this
song, as some others have been known to do. I have always found the
original version just a bit too long for its melodic power, but we can
hardly criticize Mark Hanson for giving us too much music by keeping to
its original dimensions. All of the music is there from the slightly
sultry strumming to the lush harmonies.
Then there is Hanson's superb version of Wonderful Tonight.
This song sounds great on solo guitar, especially played as sensitively
as it is here. Hanson really frames the melody wonderfully, and his
verse in harmonics gives a great contrast which suits the song
perfectly. Eric Clapton would be proud to play this version.
love gets funky. What a great change of pace this song is! The hook
gets into your brain and you just have to surrender and enjoy it. Fun
It's Only Love might seem an odd
choice from Lennon and McCartney, but not after you have heard this
version. With the pared down accompaniment the beauty of this melody
really stands out. Yes it is a love song, and I look forward to
listening to this version again and again.
I Only Have Eyes For You
continues on its unhurried way, again with the full-bodied tone that we
luxuriate in for this whole CD. The combination of tone and great songs
makes this a perfect CD for a romantic evening.
Hanson gets out his jazz-funk chops for an upbeat run-through of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Great fun that won't spoil the mood, but changes up the pace just right.
What a Wonderful World
is played with a deliciously light, deft touch that somehow coaxes a
very full tone from the guitar. This sets off the melody with an airy
feel while the accompaniment supplies an earnest conviction that is
quite moving. Well done!
anything but, floating logically along with a twinkle in its step.
Again Hanson is able to get at the essential romance of the tune, with
only a final turn to a more sombre note.
This CD ends with a light-hearted version of the classic I Left My Heart In San Francisco,
played with elan. The melody is set off in different ways, in one verse
with chordal shots to underscore it, in another with a great walking
bass accompaniment. A fine ending to a most enjoyable CD!
A dozen great songs, well arranged, flawlessly played. Who could ask for more?