Eric Kamen has returned with a continuation of his Native Unit project with Eric 2.0. Once again, Kamen plays all the instruments, composes all the tracks, and produces the final product.
He is nothing short of a magician with the Spanish guitar, dazzling us once again with a distinct blend of Latin and Middle Eastern flavored rides that last long into the desert evening. As the sun sets in your mind's eye, you can picture a mysterious stranger riding off into the sunset, just like in the old spaghetti westerns. It sounds cornball but this wonderful music is simply destined for each individual listener to evoke his or her own images. Surely, only the creator could truly convey what it all means but it allows us to let our imaginations run wild as the wind and make up our own stories complete with handpicked actors to play out the drama.
There are 14 tracks on this CD and it sounds as if it's a long story continued within each track. The flow of tracks 1-7 is similar in style but differ in tempo. Track 8 is "1001 Nights," it starts and changes up the entire pace that you just became accustomed to hearing then suddenly it feels like another chapter or segment of the story begins. This beautifully textured composition comes filled with airy guitar parts and sitar, and then when the bongos come online it is like a trip into a dark and dusty Arabian night. During the song a gently ringing bell lures you in and relaxes you, which sets you up for a little more Middle Eastern atmosphere and intrigue with "Etude for Flute and Sitar." Another one of my favorites is "La Gitane," it has a hook filled melodious stretch that I cannot get out my head and I love it.
Kamen is a master for setting up a mood and keeping you entranced and on course. His fluidity with his compositions and ability to hold steady a common theme is what keeps you hanging on for the next track. The gift that the artist holds close to his heart is the innate ability to take a bare bones guitar track and fill in all the missing pieces and layers to make one complete song. He is a one-man band, a solo artist that sounds like 3 or 4 individuals playing their parts. This is another splendid performance by Eric Kamen, that will likely get people's attention in a more dramatic fashion than the last release and have them wondering what they may have missed the first time around.