Chris Forsyth - All Time Present
The annals of music history are overflowing with gifted guitar players whose egos prevented them from reaching their full potential: rather than being content to be exceptional members of a band, they instead create unexceptional records as leaders in vain attempts to prove their worth as solo artists. Guitarist-songwriter-bandleader Chris Forsyth is the rare exception that proves the rule. Rightfully but somewhat reductively known as a guitar player par excellence, one listen to Forsyth's latest double album, All Time Present, reveals that while his dazzling musicianship can always be taken for granted, it's hardly the whole story. Forsyth's albums-presented with his Solar Motel Band or nominally solo, as here-have always been evidence of a musical mind brimming with ideas. Forsyth is joined on All Time Present by bassist Peter Kerlin and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Edward Hansen, both longtime foils; new to the group is Ryan Jewell, a sublimely talented drummer whose musicality is seemingly bottomless. With this group, Forsyth is at the peak of his powers. All Time Present is the rare double album that goes by in a flash. Indeed, one of Forsyth's greatest strengths as a composer and bandleader is his consistent ability to sustain interest even when at his most brazenly improvisational: he drifts, but he never meanders. On All Time Present, Forsyth's particular drift is like that of a proverbial wallflower with a sudden surge of unselfconscious courage toward the dance floor.