by Raymond Morin
This short, self-titled collection of instrumentals is the first by Canadian fingerpicker Denis Turbide, and it’s certainly a lovely little debut. Denis has a clean, easy-going style, and his compositions are informed by both classic fingerstyle and classic acoustic rock.
Opener “A Little Bit” is a fine example of Denis’ relaxed approach, with a healthy mix of arpeggios and hammer-on riffs, both in the high strings and the middle-bass… but it’s the song that follows, “Samuel”, that I consider to be Denis’ signature tune. The feeling is upbeat and hopeful from the first chord, with some nice, light snapping on the bass strings. A playful hammer-on riff is explored over several chords before a few short but exuberant rounds of strumming. “Samuel” is a great example of effectively composing in DADGAD, without sounding overly/overtly DADGAD… if that makes sense!
Third track “Derivatives” starts heading more in a Euro direction, albeit by way of Stefan Grossman… reminds me a little of Grossman’s Shining Shadows period… clean, steady boom-chick over a few two-chord vamps. In a way, this song might be the weakest in the bunch, as that it struggles to find a memorable melody… from a technical standpoint, the recorded performance is very clean and very fine.
Next up is “After The Battle”, a very appropriately titled song. Denis is in the classic John Renbourn open G minor tuning, and the music very much conjures images of a battlefield being surveyed, with a melancholy that suggests the old adage “Nobody wins a war.”
The opening riff of “Havre-aux-maisons” is again very evocative of Renbourn, but at his most effervescent. It reminds me of “Glastonbury”, from his obscure Lost Sessions record. “Havre…” is a jubilant little tune that, like many of the others, cycles through its themes and flies by without overstaying its welcome. Perhaps the musical climax of the disc, since the closing song, “Firstborn” seems to echo the ideas of the earlier tracks.
All tablature by Alois Kleewein, provided by Denis Turbide.