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PAUL FENTON Judgement Day Jealous Monk Records JMR0208 (2006)

Perhaps only the Australian Dave Hole is comprarable in the slide guitar stakes, as Canadian Paul Fenton plays some of the most mesmerising, warm toned slide guitar you have ever heard. In fact 'Judgment Day' is not so much about the strength of his songs as establishing different musical context's for his searing slide. From the opening repeated catchy slide motif of 'Lost In The Woods' to the two part closing title track, Paul seeks out every nuance and every tone colour imaginable on his array of guitars.

On the aptly titled instrumental 'Red Tele Raga' he extends the Eastern feel explored on the the preceding George Harrison influenced 'The River', and both pieces suggest Paul is happiest searching out different textures and drones rather than focussing on one particularr style. On the up side it's a rare pleasure to hear such musicianship outside of the ususal 12 bar context on, although when he does dip into the Bo Diddley beat underpinning 'Skydog', he comes up with a Keith Richard style triumph.

The down side is his singing doesn't always match his superlative playing. But by the time of the penultimate hard rocking intro of 'Nothing To Say' you get swept along by the sheer frisson of it all.

The closing title track is a tour de force guitar piece opening with a mournful sounding slide over a litling blues backing. Paul reverts to a an effective laid back Dave Gilmour style vocal and for the rest lets his playing colour the piece.

The closing use of harmonics is perfect. A majestic player who at times seems to weave his guitar lines through the eyes of an inmaginary needle, 'Judgement Day' is the perfect introduction to those who have never heard Paul Fenton before. Once you've heard this album you will be hooked.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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