Friday, June 3, 2016
Album Review: Follow the River Home by Jeff Pearce
“Under Summer Stars” opens the album with an enveloping soundscape of gently melodic guitar amidst layers of tenebrous chords. Conveying a pensive mood with a touch of melancholy, this atmosphere is conveyed throughout most of the album. Carrying us into the next piece, “Downstream I” is a classic ambient-space composition, characterized by low drones, high timbres and mid-range tones, as the collective guitar washes mimic a choir of voices. “Outpost” soon emerges from the shadows, where misty chords morph and swell around a looped guitar melody at its center point. “Snowfall” follows afterwards, a composition I was especially delighted to see included on here. A live recording of this song originally aired on the syndicated radio program Echoes, and while I’ve long known that Jeff could seriously rock, this is the first time he’s included a noticeably rock-influenced composition on one of his albums. The piece begins with cascading guitar loops that are soon followed by a soaring, sensual electric guitar riff, creating an exquisite fusion of ambient-space and classic rock music. On “Downstream II” Jeff once again delivers a composition that deviates somewhat from anything he’s recorded in the past. Ethereal guitar chords open this piece, followed by spinning layers of guitar loops that eventually dissipate into a pool of billowing atmospheric tones, reminding me somewhat of both Steve Reich and Tangerine Dream. The album’s lengthiest track, “Gathering Stars”, is quite possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of ambient-space music I’ve heard in years! Bathed in obscurity, this metamorphic composition emerges with spacious chords that gently rise and fall, and expand and contract, until scattering like particles of light upon the darkness. Closing out the album is the title track, “Follow the River Home”, a comfortingly warm piece that feels intimately connected to hearth and home. Led by a gentle, down-to-earth guitar melody with spacey timbres hovering in the background, it serves as a tender reminder that ultimately, home is indeed where the heart is.
Follow the River Home just might be Jeff’s crowning achievement, even among his other seemingly unsurpassable albums, including With Evening Above (2014), Bleed (2002), and To the Shores of Heaven (2000). As someone with a particular affinity for both ambient music and the electric guitar, I’ve been an avid fan of Jeff’s music for many years. It feels observant of nature and the cosmos; often alluding to natural landscapes and the skies above, all while exuding an ever-present yet concealed intense emotion. Gorgeous, haunting, and simply incomparable, Follow the River Home is already a top contender among this year’s best recordings! ~Candice Michelle
For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.
Review originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 06/03/16.
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