Kevin Sherwood – 8 Years Later
If you crave acoustic elegance, there will be no better CD this year than Kevin Sherwood’s 8 Years Later. He is the modern day epitome of that legendary, travelling folk player with nothing on his back but an acoustic guitar. Not only does he have those old musical values and roots pressed tightly to his heart but he isn’t afraid to experiment with auxiliary instruments on this borderline masterpiece.
It’s a Herculean task trying to pick a favorite on this release because I honestly love them all. His attention to detail and track balance is second to none. This is an experimental folk album because it’s unafraid of using textures and other musicians to back up the guitar and vocals. You can tell that this is far more than a vanity project for Kevin. “Propaganda Man” utilizes a cello for shading purposes, “All There Is” entrenches itself in a hippie flute melody and “Beyond the Sun” and “Into the Now” have a subtle, pulsing drive thanks to the stalwart bass/drum performances. “Learning to Live” couples the bass guitar with the soft hum of the cello for a single sound that’s all about the bottom-end tones and a rich lushness that nobody in the folk-work possesses right now.
“Sentenced” is monumental jam where Sherwood plucks the strings with his fingers, enabling every minute note to resonate and reverberate back from your stereo speakers. A soft, barely audible keyboard drone says a lot with just a few notes in the background, giving the aural textures an airtight fullness with many nuances present on repeated listens. It’s not all on the slower side though as Kevin showcases he can crack the whip into faster material with a mixture of rural Americana melodies and gallant Spanish crescendos as so gloriously illustrated on “Desdemona,” “Peace Pipe” and “Sweet Inspirations.” His vocals reach and achieve majestic melodic crests, mainly staying in a nice midrange tone but rising up into floating melodies whenever the song calls for it like the intoxication “Remember You” and it’s touching falsetto. There is simply nothing beyond this man’s reach and he covers a lot of ground on the 12 exciting tracks contained on the album. “Skylark” is the album’s lowest slung piece. The tone is crystalline and full of restrained playing that could please folk music fans both young and old. Sherwood has great appeal in his songwriting that doesn’t limit his compositions to any set focus group.
8 Years Later is a timeless album. It is very difficult to describe in word because the only way to truly absorb all this album has to offer is to listen to it on your own terms. Why an artist like this isn’t on every radio station going is a mystery to me. This music is mysterious, comforting and foreboding all in one gigantic, all-encompassing breath. There is no one playing like this right now at this moment in time, so hopefully those with a hole in their musical question will stumble upon this rising star and be ready to take the journey with him.
8 out of 10 stars.