Paul Tasker: Tierra Quemada – Folk Radio UK
Paul Tasker – Tierra Quemada
Yellowroom Records – April 1, 2022
Best known for his work with singer Iona Macdonald in the band Doghouse Roses and previously as a member of the Willard Grant’s plotguitarist Paul Tasker released “Cold Weather Music”, his first solo album, in 2016. Nick Dellar praised the instrumental album for its uniqueness in its review here. Influenced as much by guitarists like Bert Jansch as by contemporary pianists like Nils Frahm, Tasker continues this instrumental musical journey on Tierra Quemada (Scorched Earth) released earlier this month (April 1 via Yellowroom Records – YLLWRM-015).
If the title of the album evokes the current environmental crisis, it also comes from a family link with Valencia in Spain, whose colors can be heard on the album. As with his previous release, repeated listenings reveal greater depth and nuance to his music. Alongside the guitar, the banjo features prominently on this version, complemented by top notch guests including Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin, Rachel Hair on harp, Una McGlone on bass, Richard Evan on viola, Robert Henderson on trumpet and
Dejan Lapanja on drums.
The banjo shines brightest on the humorously titled overture Womble the sausage dogwrites of a neighbor’s wire-haired dachshund that features Laura-Beth Salter’s mandolin:
The migratory nature of music from his native Scotland is explored on the gentle Horse ridinga sustained rhythm for two beautiful clawhammer banjo waltzes, Firefly and Last Waltz.
A personal favorite that has echoes of Jansch and Renbourn is the Upbeat and Sublime road trip which beautifully contrasts the guitar and the banjo. The tune was written during a 2006 American road trip of borrowed guitars traveling from Austin, Texas to San Francisco. The contrast of musical colors brings this “something special” to this album. On Whisperswe get that again as a driving guitar underpins a more classic-sounding banjo in a very unexpected yet fascinating way.
For DMT, we are treated to a contemplative solo guitar piece. This meditative rhythm continues After the rainwhich, with the addition of Robert Henderson’s trumpet, adds Spanish, almost texacali undertones before drifting away to Richard Evan’s alto accompaniment.
There’s no shortage of originality and dynamism on Tierra Quemada, and while there may not be that sense of urgency that the album’s title may suggest at first glance, it’s the reminder of the natural beauty that surrounds us that Tasker seems to have captured so well in this contemplative and moving instrumental album. There is a sense of optimism in the regeneration and change suggested by Tasker. The album not only showcases his string skills, but also his ability to create living soundscapes through arrangements that engage and draw the listener in the moment. It’s a remarkable album.
Tierra Quemada is now available. Order through Bandcamp: https://paultasker.bandcamp.com/album/tierra-quemada-2