Review Summary: at long last, Canada’s flurry of fingerstyle talent fosters both talent and lasting power
I’m certain you’ve seen that video of Topeka fingerstyle guitarist Andy McKee playing his song ‘Drifting’ on YouTube, bald head, beard and all. For many listeners, it’s this video and/or other videos of McKee’s playing that first introduce them to the expansive world of fingerstyle acoustic guitar - a world of whose doors were only recently opened by canuck pioneers Bruce Cockburn and Don Ross in the last few decades. If you were suitably intrigued by McKee’s innovative guitarwork, you may have browsed the related videos: all of which were likely videos shot similarly by Candyrat records to showcase their huge wealth of fingerstyle talent. The record company boasts an always-expanding fleet of ridiculously talented instrumentalists that not only defy what we expect to hear from an acoustic guitar but damage the collective self-esteem of musicians world-wide. Quebecois guitarist Antoine Dufour is, regrettably, one of the lesser known men on the infallible label but since his first appearance on 2004’s Naissance
, Dufour has quickly progressed into one of the more fascinating guitarists ever to capitalize on Candyrat’s YouTube ubiquity.
is a collection of hammer-on’s, acrylic nails, thumb picks, tapping harmonics and outlandish instrumental covers that collectively make a body of music as inventive as it is beautiful. Dufour has an impeccable ear for melody and even when he’s forcing all sorts of weird sounds and techniques out of his guitar (‘To Run In a Dream’, for example), the melody takes priority and is never backseated by technicality. The album’s centrepiece and most impressive song is a reimagining of Imogen Heap’s brilliant ‘Hide and Seek’ that sees Dufour miming each one of the song’s many harmonies crisply and percussively. The song mimics the ups and downs of its source effortlessly, switching from bright, plucked chords to the heavier melodic strum that dominates the song’s climax and really sets the bar high for acoustic instrumental covers (which there are quite a lot, believe it or not). And while the man’s Yes cover ‘South End of the Sky’ is pretty impressive too, the most impressive tracks outside of his Heap love-letter are the most melodically memorable still: the best original track goes unquestionably to ‘So Little While Road’, a song that is completely haunting in its composition but also so strange sounding that its a stretch of imagination to visualize how anyone would play it. But Antoine Dufour plays it. He plays all of the songs on Convergences
, somehow and he does it all with one guitar. As just one fingerstyle enthusiast in a fledging fleet of many talented others, Dufour lets Convergences
confidently set him apart from the pack.