"I've Got the House to Myself"
There's something about an unaccompanied acoustic guitar that encourages intimacy. Most comfortably played sitting down, the wooden box invites the listener to sit down, too, and lean forward to catch the subtleties of its gentle tone. It would be a mistake to destroy such informality with off-putting displays of speed and flash, and David Grier doesn't make that mistake on "I've Got the House to Myself," his new album of 13 unaccompanied acoustic-guitar performances.
Oh, there are moments when Grier breaks into a run of swift, slippery notes, but those musical geysers seem to spring inevitably from the tension created by his patiently repeated figures. It's the perfectly paced rhythm and glowing tone of those figures that most impress, not the dime-a-dozen displays of speed. And like his obvious antecedents -- Doc Watson, Tony Rice, Clarence White and Bert Jansch -- Grier is able to sustain bass lines, rhythm chords and single-note melodies simultaneously without multi-tracking.
"I've Got the House to Myself" contains two originals by Grier (a D.C. native and Nashville resident), 10 well-known traditional tunes such as "Sally Gooden," "Arkansas Traveler" and "Black Mountain Rag," and a six-minute version of Deford Bailey's "Evening Prayer Blues." A hidden track at the end offers an extra five minutes of freewheeling improvisation. The tremendous discipline behind this music is so well disguised that it seems utterly relaxed and welcoming.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Monday at the Silver Spring Unitarian-Universalist Church. * To hear a free Sound Bite from David Grier, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)