Adrian Legg comes out of the British "baroque folk" guitar tradition of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and Richard Thompson, and like his predecessors, Legg plays the Anglo-Celtic roots of folk, country and classical "early music" with a chamber musician's ear for precision and harmony. On his new album, "High Strung Tall Tales,'' Legg displays a rare knack for combining strong melodic lines with arpeggiated harmonies in such a way that they flow with a graceful unity. Guitarists love him for his ability to pull off these one-person "duets," but lay listeners will love the sheer beauty of melodic and harmonic interplay. "High Strung Tall Tales" serves up a generous serving of 20 tracks, covering all the far-flung aspects of Legg's career. You have the improvised, unaccompanied guitar of "Naive II"; the six studio collaborations between Legg's acoustic guitar and various other musicians; the four movements of his classically influenced "High Strung Suite"; and a sampling from a live show in Philadelphia in February, including four solo guitar tunes and five monologues delivered in his deadpan British delivery. The collaborations include a lovely guitar-and-snaredrum duet, "The Crockett Waltz," and an irreverent garage rock mugging of the Christmas carol, "Silent Night." The suite captures Legg's playing at its most intricately virtuosic, and the live tracks document the wild humor and musical simplicity that make his concerts so special. --Geoffrey Himes
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Superhuman talent, coupled with humility...what a concept
WaltSnipe | Austin, Tx United States | 11/10/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you've ever seen a picture of Adrian Legg...he's a pretty unassuming-looking guy. He possesses, however, a huge guitar talent. Not only is he a monster fingerpicker, but he also makes extensive use of a guitar technique that you would bet $ couldn't work--while the right hand is busy with intricate fingerpicking, the left hand will suddenly leap off the guitar neck and start to detune certain strings with a speed and precision that seems impossible. Between this detuning and the actual fretting of strings on the neck with the same hand, beautiful melodies are created. In waltz time, no less. If you've ever held a guitar long enough to mess with the tuners, you can imagine how difficult it must be to zip up to various tuners at lightning speed and move them to exact new locations so that the open string plays a different note. This is while alternating back and forth playing chords, etc. on the neck! While the right hand is making sense of it all with complex fingerpicking patterns! AND, you have to write a piece that can make use of this startling trick. I saw him do this live, repeatedly and with apparent little effort, as the opening act for the G3 Tour (Vai, Satriani, Johnson) in the mid-90s. The crowd was a bunch of testosterone-poisoned chuckleheads who swilled Miller Lite, chest-bumped each other and totally ignored Legg's set, which was a pity because he was the most interesting thing in the whole show. The live cuts on this CD show, to anyone who doubted, that it is technique and not trickery that creates his unique sound. His stories between the live cuts are priceless--sublime and ridiculous (a'la Python) tributes to dry British wit. I would give this CD five stars, but I'm not as enamoured of waltzs as Legg is."
Awesome guitar work; mood-altering textures
WaltSnipe | 04/20/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Adrian Legg can provoke almost any human physiological response with six strings. This album runs the gambut from Irish jigs to smooth New-Age(ish) melodies. I am as impressed by his virtuosity as I am pleased with, and soothed by, the textures he creates. Even the between-song patter on the live tracks is highly entertaining."