Guitar music in the most literal sense – File alongside John Ford & Sergio Leone.
A son of the wild west (Texas and Arizona) now living in California, Cameron Knowler plays guitar. Or, more accurately, Cameron Knowles paint pictures with guitars. Pictures of huge skies, epic stories and the good and the bad of mankind. This album contains fourteen tracks of ‘paella western’ instrumentals (a phrase this writer has just made up to convey a Spanish meets Wild West style of guitar playing). Mostly just one or two guitars shadowing each other, often quite short one or two minute tracks. There are shades of Chet Atkins and Ry Cooder within the licks; often sparsity and silence play an important role. It’s a very different album and very puzzling (in a good way) for a writer to adequately review it.
Where to jump in? ‘Cindy Cindy’ is simply beautiful – Chet meets Mother Maybelle somewhere around a cowboy campfire. ‘Second Train to Almogordo’ is so, so sparse. Any listener would have to stop whatever they were doing (typing this review for instance) and just listen, to appreciate how a piece of music can be so open and bare. Opener ‘I’m an old Cowhand’ blends the Spanish and Western, plus a little Western Swing, so expertly and unpredictably – you can’t second guess where Knowler’s going to go next with the arrangement. Very clever indeed. ‘Sonora Road’ has clackety kitchen utensils as percussion. It sounds like a bluegrass clog dance on a wooden front porch.
Knowler offers up the ultimate Western mood music. Given the right place and time, it’s almost faultless.