Before we even discuss the music, how about that cover art from Michael Cheval...wow!
Close Beauty is the latest solo album from acclaimed Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman, known mostly for his groundbreaking work in the legendary progressive rock/fusion act Focus. This new instrumental album (Mascot Label Group/Music Theories Recordings) was "inspired from a simple notion, that when you are too close to an object, you cannot see the real value", and, if I interpret Akkerman's statement, you'll then miss the overall beauty of that object. Well, let me just say, that Close Beauty is indeed a gorgeous album. The guitarist has enlisted Marijn van den Berg on drums, David De Marz Ovens on bass, and Coen Melenaar on keyboards to complete the album, which contains a dozen new compositions. "Spiritual Privacy (Sunset Tango)" kicks things off in fine fashion, an acoustic jazz-fusion piece with some manic picking from the master over engaging arrangements, and it's followed up with the tasty electric blues-rock of "Beyond the Horizon", Akkerman once again showing off those tremendous chops that have always made him a favorite of fans, critics, and musicians alike. He goes between acoustic & electric quite a bit on the album, and though some tracks lean one way over the year, when he mixes them both, as on the title cut, the results are just magnificent. "Retrospection" is a fascinating piece, part prog-rock, part jazz-fusion, and part flamenco, Jan's technique simply dazzling no matter if it's on acoustic or electric guitar. His liquid, jazzy lines on "Tommy's Anniversary" and absolutely charming (Carlton & Ritenour fans take note!), while he opts for speedy rock & blues flourishes on the ravishing "Don Giovanni". Sultry Hammond organ collides with funky guitar licks on the groove laden "French Pride", and "Fromage" is tasty West Coast styled fusion, Akkerman's notes singing & stinging every step of the way.
Not a dud to be found on this stellar set of instrumental brilliance from this legendary guitar master, so if you've been wondering what Jan Akkerman has been up to in recent years, give a listen to Close Beauty and get caught up real quick. Outstanding!
Spiritual Privacy (Sunset Tango) 07:02
Beyond The Horizon 07:06
Close Beauty 03:00
Retrospection (Emotional Debris-The Power Behind The Throne-Hear The Trees Whistle For The Dog-Euridice) 06:13
Tommy's Anniversary 08:17
Don Giovanni 04:06
Meanwhile in St. Tropez 04:51
French Pride 03:00
Good Body Every Evening 08:16