Thursday, March 6, 2014

CD Review – Scotland: Grace of the Wild, by Bill Leslie

Whenever I see Bill Leslie's name on the sender's address label, I know I'm in for a musical treat.

His latest release, deservedly nominated for Album of the Year, Best World Album, and Best Contemporary Album by Zone Music Reporter, confirms to me that he is simply one of the best acoustic guitarists in the business.

Inspired by a recent family vacation to Leslie's ancestral home of Scotland, the album features a rich mix of original and traditional songs, all brought to vibrant life by Leslie's guitars, whistles, and keyboards, as well as piano, accordion, oboe, flute, cello, violin, and percussion by a host of exceptional musicians. On many of the tracks, the other instruments are as prominent as the guitar, proving Leslie to be a generous and supportive bandleader.

The sound quality is so crisp and clear that you can hear every nuance of Leslie's picking and strumming. This further enhances the inherent beauty and serenity of Leslie's compositions and covers, which blend American country and folk with Celtic influences for a hearty, wholesome fusion that is deeply satisfying.

As both an acoustic guitarist and a composer/arranger, Leslie has a measured, confident fluidity that is neither frenzied nor vapid, making him a welcome breath of fresh air among his contemporaries.

You can't go wrong with Bill Leslie.

--Raj Manoharan

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