STEPHEN CLARK – The Lady Aurora (LAR01)

The Lady AuroraThe Lady Aurora is the first solo album by Stephen Clark. The album is predominantly acoustic guitar instrumentals. Hmmm, how to give, in words, a flavour of how enjoyable The Lady Aurora is? I could talk about some of the tracks ‘Muddlin’ Through Boogaloo’ would be a great introduction to the album, “a blues groove incorporating Latin chord changes”; or the traditional Appalachian music at the heart of some tracks; the merger of Celtic and Blues music on ‘Rising Tide’; or the tracks inspired by the Northern Lights – and which give the album its title; and so on. While this would be technically correct, it wouldn’t give a feel or, in the word I used before, a flavour. Hmmm…

You know what it’s like when see the guitar player in the corner of a noisy bar? You may have been the acoustic guitar player in the corner of a noisy bar? I gather Stephen Clark decided to record the album after playing in such venues and people asked him, “Who wrote that?”. You probably know how impressive it is to be able to grab people’s attention in those circumstances.

Let’s try this, from the publicity material: “Stephen loves playing acoustic guitars (which are left strategically placed around the house in different alternate and open tunings). This album features a mahogany Martin 00-15M [most of the tracks], a spruce topped elctro-acoustic Schertler SM and a 1979 vintage cedar and rosewood Fylde Caliban”. I’ve only written one other review where it felt important to note the maker of the guitar, but it’s the kind of album where this is relevant to giving a flavour. Similarly, it’s also worth mentioning that the tracks were recorded in a way that aimed to capture “a live ‘close miked’ feel and flow between the tracks”.

Overall, then, what you have with The Lady Aurora is an album that works both as something for guitarists to listen to and admire, and as something that can grab attention in a noisy bar … and on my home hifi it also works rather well irrespective of whether I play it delicately on low volume or turn it up to give it a meticulous listening as though Clarke is in the room with me. Does this give a sense?

The album is beautifully played with eight original compositions, three arrangements of traditional tunes, and two interpretations (JJ Cale’s ‘Anyway The Wind Blows’ and Penguin Café Orchestra’s ‘Music For A Found Harmonium’.)

Better than words, have a listen to the track below. Rather nice.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:

‘The Lady Aurora’:

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