Review Summary: Finger picking at it's finest
Every once in a while you come across something on the internet that makes you go "wow." It may be a video, picture, song, band, or anything of the sort. In this case, it's the wonderful finger plucking music that Ewan Dobson has created. I stumbled across Ewan Dobson while browsing YouTube one day. The video entitled "Level 5" was in the recommended videos off to the side and it caught my eye to due to the quirky name and odd thumbnail picture. I wasn't too sure what to expect from the video, but I was treated with some of the best guitar playing and music I have heard in a long time.
Essentially, Ewan Dobson creates classic music, modern music and everything in between with only his guitar and finger picking. No bass, no drums, no vocals; nothing. It's just a one man show and that's all is needed with his style of playing. Everything is played with his fingers and voiced throughout the guitar. Any bass beat that is heard is done with his thumb plucking the low E string to keep a beat while the rest of his fingers are off doing their own thing.
One of the best things this album has to offer is it's variety. The album opens up with "I Know Your Pain," which is somewhat reminiscent of the Japanese shamisen (at least to my ears) but jumps straight to "Level 5," which can easily belong in any of the RPG games that appeared on the SNES. "Level 5" also is one the most impressive and catchy songs on the Self Titled album and is the song that I show to any of my friends if I introduce them to Ewan Dobson's music. But Ewan just doesn't make his own music, he pays homage to the classics too. Twice on the album he references celebrated violinist Niccolò Paganini, and of course, covered the Tetris theme music titled "Korobeiniki (Tetris)." Yes the Tetris theme is a classic. Go away.
The 9 minute and 17 second epic "Blood and Ice" is a prime example of why Ewan is such fantastic composer and guitarist. Fitting perfectly as music that can be played while riding the back of a camel through a desert then seamlessly transitioning to something can be heard while traversing a dungeon in a Legend of Zelda video game, then going beyond that into something entirely different while still maintaining the poise of the song blows my mind every time. The musicianship showed by this one person is incredible on every level and is something that cannot get old and wear out over time like most modern music can.
Now, I may be over exaggerating and hyping this album somewhat and it may sound like it's the perfect album with no flaws, but no album really is like that. The album contains 19 songs, so one of the main foreseeable gripes is repetition. For example, the song "Dancing with Her" sounds eerily like the solo in "Level 5," and "Time" is familiar sounding to the album opener "I Know Your Pain." But these songs are in no way bad. In fact, "Dancing with Her" is one of my favorites off the album and "Time" is a musical journey of it's own accord. Also, the style of music Ewan creates also may not appeal to everybody, but it's something that everybody can appreciate due to the technical abilities of Ewan and his creativity that is shown throughout the album.
If you're one that can appreciate good music when you hear it, or can appreciate the technical side of guitar playing and finger picking, check out this album. Or at least listen to one of the 19 songs this remarkable self-titled album has to offer, you just might possibly do yourself a favor.