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Rick Dietrick - Gentle Wilderness [Thompkins Square - 2017]

Rick Dietrick is a solo acoustic guitar player from Ohio who released a single album back in 1978 called "Gentle Wilderness".  The Tompkins Square label has now re-issued that album (which only had 500 copies in its original limited run), as well as this album, "River Sun River Moon", a collection of recordings from the same time period.

Thankfully, this is not an unfocused compilation of loose ends and outtakes, but rather a fleshed out, carefully ordered album of astoundingly beautiful and serene songs.  I had never heard Dietrick's music before, but it is immediately apparent that his melodic ear is peerless, and he possesses masterful skill in using fingerpicking techniques to arpeggiate chords and create delicate spirals of intricate harmony.  The melodies are in constant stair-stepping movement, windmills spun by a fickle wind which rests and flares up as it sees fit.  The tonalities heard draw from folk and psychedelic rock, and undoubtedly foreshadow shoegaze as well with their focus on lush, complex consonances.

The music is wondrously emotional, soothing on the deepest levels with its genuinely sympathetic affect, yet acknowledging of tragedy, pain and sadness.  It is celestial in tone, light as a cloud, distantly familiar as a dream or out of body experience.  It is also cozy, rustic and homey.  It captures a sense of relief, like pulling your shoes off after a long day and sitting down.

Generally, the music simmers at a low energy level, but has its own well articulated intensity.  The second side of the album is a bit sleepier, more repetitive and spacious.  If you are enjoying the album as peaceful ambience, this trail off is quite pleasant, and will aid you in sleep.  It could be said that side B is the 'night' side.

This is a refreshingly tuneful and emotive recording.  It is brimming over with inventive twists, turns and variations.  There is quite a bit of music to be found in these forty minutes.  I ought to hear his "Gentle Wilderness" album as well.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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