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Tony Furtado
Deep Water

Review By Steven Stone
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  Tony Furtado ranks as one very prolific independent recording artist. Every nine months he births another album of original music. What's even more singular about Furtado's work is that each CD is as good, if not better, than the last. All the songs on Deep Water are Tony Furtado originals. They range from bluesy pop anthems to fundamental acoustic slide guitar laments. Furtado has a knack for combining rootsy blues riffs with catchy melodic lines. On Deep Water he couples slickly textured rock-pop orchestrations with organic bluegrass/blues sensibilities. The results are both aurally arresting and emotionally involving. On the opening selection, "The Bawds OfZuphony," Furtado weaves the lead lines from his banjo with his slide guitar, electric guitar, and dobro-banjo to create a virtual wall of densely packed musical textures. On the title cut Furtado uses his banjo and acoustic guitar finger-picked rolls to establish not only the backing riff but also the rhythmic pattern that drives the song forward. On some songs, such as "Raise ‘Em Up," Furtado's electric slide guitar work reminds me of Sonny Landreth, but Furtado overlays his electric lines with acoustic tracks to give the overall sound an organic and gritty edge.

Producer and multi-instrumentalist Sean Slade, whose past credits include work with rockers such as Hole, Dinosaur Jr., Radiohead, and the Dresden Dolls, contributes keyboards, bass, linn drum, tenor sax, and alto clarinet to Deep Water. His modern pop inclinations are readily apparent throughout the disc. Even acoustic instruments such as Furtado's six-string guitar were recorded with an electronic presence that pushes the sound more toward rock rather than natural acoustic Americana. Only on the most rootsy cuts, such as "Mississippi Sage" which is basically a solo slide guitar instrumental, does Slade leave the acoustic sound alone. Although Slade's recording techniques veer toward sonic impressionism, even acoustic purists will enjoy the wide variety of instrumental colors and textures that Slade coaxes out of a small ensemble consisting of only Furtado, Slade, drummer Benny Grotto, and Anthony Saffery on sitar and synthesizer.

As the genre called Americana grows in popularity it's natural that its boundaries expand as well. Deep Water pushes borders and bridges the gap between Americana and contemporary pop. I think you'll enjoy the music that Tony Furtado and Sean Slade have created to fill this fissure.

 

 

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