NeuFutur does not get much in the way of folk music. Thus, whenever Tompkins Square records sends us anything, we have to be really on our toes. Whether it is due to re-releasing decades old album or finding some of the newest folk virtuosos (such as is the case with this album), Tompkins Square is always one of the stronger genre-specific labels out there. This disc is essentially a three way split, with each individual getting a segment of “Berkeley Guitar 2006” to showcase their wares. Sean Smith is the first one up, and wows early with eir “Augur of Deviation”. While the track may start out slowly, the energy which Sean Smith moves into on this seven and a half minute opus is not easily matched. There is no need for vocals, as the guitar work on this track is so intense and detailed that individuals will be able to easily decipher the story.
The entirety of the disc falls short of the forty minute mark, so one has to wonder why another folk star of the same sort as Smith, Snider and Baldwin was not included on the disc. “What Once Was Will Be” is a much tender track by Smith, and shows eir skill with that side of things in the same way as “Augur of Deviation” did for the harder and sharper edge compositions. Adam Snider has a much more rich sound than Smith during tracks like “Lonely Tuesday Ramble”, to the degree that the track has a vintage sound to it that Smith’s songs on eir side of the split just do not have. This continues with the down home country sound of “Swamp Angel”.
There are two distinct style of music played by these two musicians, and individuals still have yet to hear from Matt Baldwin. Matt Baldwin starts off eir side of the split with “Waltz”, a track that seemingly blends the older styles played by Snider with the more current sounds of Smith. The success of the three musicians on this CD mean that Tompkins Square should continue to release a split CD showcasing the three or four most impressive folk musicians of that year. Doing so would allow some new faces to be catapulted right to the stratosphere without languishing in obscurity for most of their life. Pick this CD up to show that this disc was a good idea; chances are something of value will show itself.
Top Tracks: Waltz, Swamp Angel
Sean Smith / Adam Snider / Matt Baldwin – Berkeley Guitar 2006
Sean Smith / Adam Snider / Matt Baldwin – Berkeley Guitar 2006 / 2006 Tompkins Square / 11 Tracks / http://www.tompkinssquare.com / Reviewed 22 January 2007