SE3 by Spencer ElliottRelease date: April 8, 2022
Label: CandyRat Records
When the mention of acoustic guitar finger picking comes up, usually the first thing that comes to mind with many listeners is some gentle, pastoral sounds akin to Windham Hill Records staples like George Winston or Michael Hedges.
Indeed, after the few first bars of ‘Torque’, the opening track on SE3, the latest (fourth album) by West Virginia guitarist Spencer Elliott, you get the impression that that is exactly what awaits you here too.
Yet, only after a few bars, the rhythm section of Sean Sydnor (bass) and Chris Hudson (drums), kicks in, and Elliott and his cohorts start veering off into the jazzy post-rock spheres with an almost punky reverence. This exchange between calm passages and rocky exuberance continue throughout the album, creating quite a musical whirlwind.
Such a musical concept can be quite tricky if the musicians involved aren’t complete masters of their instruments, or if they try too hard to show how good they are.
Luckily, Elliott, who commands the proceedings throughout, as well as Sydnor and Hudson sound like complete master of their instruments, but at the same time don’t try to show off – they let the music flow its natural course without falling into the trap of insisting on their instrument mastery too much.
Throughout, the focus is on Elliott and his acoustic guitar playing, but also the quality of the compositions themselves, making ‘SE3’ a particularly listenable experience.