Frank Birtwistle is a guitarist and composer based in Sheffield who has released a set of four EPs of solo pieces – twenty-eight tracks in all. Volume 1 is played on nylon strings although the opening track ‘Flight’ sounds rather robust. You can forget Pre-Raphaelite young ladies playing delicate little pastoral pieces. Closer listening reveals the softness of tone that you don’t get with a steel-strung instrument but the recording process gives his playing a real presence. I particularly like the lightness of ‘Dreamlands’ in this set while ‘Grasmere’ evokes for me not the summer sunshine but the mist on the hills surrounding the water.
Volume 2 is recorded on steel strings with all the brightness and sustain they bring. The second track, ‘Gossamer’, explores the richness of the bass strings with a relatively simple melody over the top – rather hypnotic. ‘Komorebi’ is a slower and slow-building track, again with emphasis on the bass notes. In contrast, ‘Seasons’ opens with a distinctly spring-like motif – almost the sound of a bubbling stream – while ‘Regret’ has a lightness overlaying its implied melancholy. I particularly like ‘Midsummer Haze’ in this set.
The third volume continues on steel strings with Frank making more use of his instrument’s natural sustain – and maybe a touch of reverb – to leave notes hanging in the air on the opening ‘Daybreak’. The final track is ‘Sunset’ and uses the same technique so I‘m sure you get the picture. ‘Songbird’ feels a bit too heavy for the image he’s trying to convey – it’s probably right in his mind if not mine – but ‘Standing Still’ has a suitable solidity about it while ‘Nowhere’ runs hither and yon.
The last volume is also restricted to the steel-strung guitar and I sort of wish that Frank had mixed things up a bit. Not that there is anything wrong with it – the opening ‘Riversong’ is a lovely fast-flowing piece (sorry) – but I was hoping for a touch of bottle-neck resonator or maybe something on a baritone guitar. No, Frank Birtwistle sticks to what he does best and that is very good.
Artist’s website: https://frankbirtwistle.bandcamp.com/
Any CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD that are reviewed or featured above (where available) can be ordered below through our UK or US Storefront
Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.
Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/
Alternatively, search the Amazon main UK Store below.
Physical link to the US Store: https://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/
Alternatively, search the Amazon main US Store below (change selection from Jethro Tull and click 'Go').
We all give our spare time to run folking.com. Our aim has always been to keep folking a free service for our visitors, artists, PR agencies and tour promoters. If you wish help out and donate something (running costs currently funded by Darren Beech), please click the PayPal link below to send us a small one off payment or a monthly contribution.