|14 × 12.5 × 1 cm
CD review by Graham Blackley
Multi-instrumentalist Stanley Greenthal, who lives both on Lopez Island (one of the U.S. San Juan Islands) and in Seattle, is a globe-trekking guitarist and singer who also plays intriguing instruments such as the bouzouki, mandocello, laouto and lavta.
Greenthal creates beautiful music that is inspired by and imbued with the traditional folk sounds of Crete, Scotland, Brittany, Turkey, Greece and Macedonia.
On this fifteen-track album Greenthal is joined by his wife Kip (Bendir and vocals), Christos Govetas (Clarinet, oud, daouli and bendir), Luke Plumb (Mandolin), Eliot Grasso (Uilleann pipes, flute, low whistle), Bill Lanphier (Double bass, fretless electric bass), Joel Bernstein (Banjo, harmonica and concertina) and Will Dowd (Drums).
Greenthal and band are particularly adept at tugging on the listener’s heartstrings.
It must be the emotional depth and timelessness of the lovingly rendered instrumentation that achieves this evocative impact.
On The Sleeping Tune, for instance, the bouzouki and mandolin are played with such delicacy and feel that this pipe tune by Scottish piper Gordon Duncan generates an elusive, hard-to-define glow that almost aches with nostalgia.
The wistful low whistle played by Eliot Grasso on One More Time hauntingly captures the sense of loss experienced by Greenthal who laments the passing of fellow Lopez Island residents Dave Fisher and Leta Currie Marshall.
On a rather different note, Patrounino is a wonderfully lively dance from Edessa, Aegean Macedonia/Greece that is guaranteed to get the feet tapping while Cretan Syrtos is an uptempo gem that features a strong driving rhythm.
All fifteen tracks on First Song are a pleasure to experience due to the deft musicianship of Greenthal and his band and the deep appreciation that each of the players has for the folk traditions that they triumphantly champion.
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