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Jim Ghedi Home Is Where I Exist, Now To Live And Die

Jim Ghedi's stuff has a genre-less feel - quite an achievement in the traditionalist world of solo acoustic guitar. There's nothing madly radical, experimental or flamboyantly technical going on in this album whatsoever, and yet there's something very distinctive about it, something at once pleasingly familiar and engagingly unique.

The familiarity is, I suppose, rooted in the sound of the acoustic guitar, while the distinctiveness emerges from Ghedi's playing style: the idiosyncrasies of particular hand positions, favoured string gauges and chord shapes, the swing and tempo of his own mental metronome. It takes time to make as well-known an instrument as the acoustic guitar sound like it has something new to say in that old, familiar voice, and the pleasure of hearing this sort of stuff recorded lies in the ghosts of labour that the microphone captures: the squeak of fingers shifting on strings, the quiet creaks and moans of the instrument's body, the barely perceivable breathing. We hear not just the music, but the almost-silent making of the music.

Perhaps I've just been primed by the press release's talk of time spent in Belgium, but there's a distinctly rural European feel to these tunes. They sound to me like deep, blazing colours a-swirl, with a hint of chaos and darkness lurking at the edges, like a late van Gogh - a timely metaphor for Brussels, perhaps, and the Europe it nominally represents. For Ghedi's playing makes subtle use of haunting scales and modes whose 'Spanish' feel actually reaches back yet further, recalling the guitar's origins as an Arabic instrument. Our music remembers what we ourselves have found it convenient to forget.

But not everything has to be about politics, and to overthink it is to undermine the listenability and charm of Ghedi's music. Despite hints of melancholia, it's bloody lovely, full of the warmth of summer evenings. Turn out the lights and listen.

Paul Graham Raven

by Now Then Manchester
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