DOUG HAMER Acoustic Journal JRT Records (2004) Acoustic Journal is a melodic tapestry of fourteen solo (and one duet) acoustic guitar instrumentals, all of them accessible and easy to enjoy from the first playing. Moods and tempos vary but not in any way so as to present jarring juxtapositions between songs. If I was asked to compare Doug Hamer to other acoustic guitarists, I'd classify him as a blend of Clarelynn Rose and Ken Bonfield. He can kick up his proverbial heels on a song like "Java" which sways and rocks, albeit in a gentle fashion, or let subtle influences color his songs, such as on "Island Memories" (which draws from the Hawaiian slack key school) or the appropriately titled "Celtic Garden." At other times, he takes a more impressionistic approach, playing in a sparser vein, e.g. "Fern Grotto," which displays his control of nuance and shading, as well as demonstrating some well-executed studio engineering techniques (echo effect) which can go a long way toward giving the music some depth and extra feeling. Later in this track, the pace picks up even while the mood remains draped in mystery, as Hamer's finger fly every which way on the fret board and across the strings, picking fingerstyle in a dazzling display of control. The strengths of Acoustic Journal are it's relative simplicity (this is, after all, just a solo acoustic guitar CD, with no keyboards or other accompaniment, with the exception of the presence of a second guitarist on the song "Next to Me," a gentle romantic ballad, on which Hamer is joined by Dean Nissen) and it's wider than usual variety of music, embracing an assortment of moods and tempos. That Hamer manages to vary the music as much as he does while still keeping the overall "feel" of the CD on the quiet side (perhaps achieved through attention to detail in the recording process, e.g. mic placement, mixing, and engineering) makes the recording an ideal soundtrack to Saturday afternoon chores, especially outdoors, or maybe as the musical backdrop to a distant thunderstorm. From the self-described (in the copious liner notes) "haunting chordal structure and swaying tempo" of "Wind in the Windmill" to the slyly cheerful "Indigo Skies" to the uptempo blues of "No Strings" and the serene album closer, "Goodbye Shanghai," Doug Hamer paints a multi-hued sonic landscape on his acoustic guitar, taking the listener through peaceful rural towns, winding through fog-shrouded valleys, and hiking to the tops of rolling hills. As I've always maintained, most acoustic instrumental music is especially well-suited for playing while enjoying our wonderful natural environment, whether it's the peaceful north woods of the Midwest, the expansive vistas of the Rockies or Grand Tetons or the breathtaking ocean views from Highway 1 along the Pacific coastline. Doug Hamer's Acoustic Journal is ideal music to listen to in any of these environs or you can enjoy it almost as much as an armchair traveler, too. Either way, I solidly recommend the album. Bill Binkelman Music Reviewer New Age Reporter Acoustic Journal has truly been a musical journey, a special voyage of the heart to places and experiences that have left an indelible impression on the artists soul. Every composition is intended to carry the listener across time, across mountains and oceans through a wide array of emotions. Each original piece represents a memory and is intended to capture an impression of a special moment in time. This project is purely Doug doing what he loves best. It is comprised soley of his original melodies and arrangements while playing his beloved Martin and as such this album gives the listener an intimate glimpse into the very heart of the writer and guitar-stylist. He considers music to be one of life's greatest Blessings and each song he has written to be a gift. Growing up surrounded by the coastal mountains and waters of Puget Sound, his writing and even his playing style has invariably been influenced by the beauty of his surroundings. The texture, mood and flow of his compositions reflect his love of nature and gratitude for our Creator. Relax and enjoy the journey... Doug's solo guitar compostition 'Come The Rain', is featured on The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum's 2004 Anthology CD. Doug Hamer now working with A&R Select Los Angeles, CA - Composer and guitarist Doug Hamer has announced that he is currently working with A&R Select, the world's leading independent artist development firm. Hamer has staked his musical reputation on his guitar picking skills - and it was a wise decision. An outpouring of positive reviews has come from the musical community. Listeners and critics alike have been swept up in Hamer's music. He plays a form of finger-style guitar playing that requires considerable dexterity. Not only does Hamer have that dexterity, but he also has the compositional skills to write the notes he picks. His albums "Rainforest Suite" and "Acoustic Journal" have introduced audiences to his accomplished songwriting and gifted instrumental talent. Hamer's music is noted for it's emotional resonance and crisp, fluid guitar playing. Composition for film and television are the next obvious steps for one with Hamer's musical skills. His ability to conjure emotional impact and the vividness of his music make him the perfect match for filmmakers seeking someone to score their productions. And those obvious next steps are exactly the direction on which Hamer is focused. Having released his albums and established respect and credibility in the genre, he is confident a breakthrough in film and television is in the cards. "Hamer's music conjures such three-dimensional emotional structures and summons such sharp imagery that it's easy to see his work belongs in the movies and on the TV," according to a spokesman for A&R Select.
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