Album Review of When the Sea Lets Go by Vin Downes

Guitarist Vin Downes’ latest release, titled When the Sea Lets Go, was recorded at Imaginary Road Studios in beautiful Vermont. Produced by guitarist and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, along with multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer Tom Eaton, the album is comprised of ten lovely acoustic compositions recorded on steel-string guitar, which overall convey the signature essence of classic Windham Hill recordings by the likes of Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges and Alex de Grassi.

“Entwined and Lost” is a gentle opener that paints a scenic landscape of solitude, as it likewise conveys a comfortingly warm and down-to-earth feel. Vin’s guitar-playing style is at once detailed and intricate, yet perfectly understated and overall low-key, as he imparts a smoothly flowing and velvety touch throughout the compositions. The third track, “Morning Red”, is a comparatively brighter and quicker-paced tune that gently uplifts the spirits, as it brings to mind that of peering out on a terrace while an early sunshine pours through the colorful leaves of towering trees. On the fourth track, “Dust and Drag”, Michael Manring’s bass guitar enters at about the halfway mark, as it seemingly forms a dancing pair with Vin’s guitar for a few moments before exiting the stage. The fifth track, “Everything Ahead”, is one of the most upbeat compositions on the album, imparting subtle overtones of Americana. It’s easy to imagine driving into the sunset while listening to this seemingly carefree yet contemplative piece, letting go of all stresses and worries. The title-piece and seventh track, “When the Sea Lets Go”, is one of the most melodically beautiful and emotive compositions on the album, in which an atmosphere of evening is conveyed, perhaps while standing alone by the seashore. A hint of sunlight peers through on the lovely eighth track, “Streets of Sunday”, in which a delicate piano melody courtesy of Tom Eaton enters towards the end of the piece in just the perfect timing, as it gently drifts and twirls around the centerpiece. A few of the album’s song titles especially leave one with the intriguing impression of wondering what their story might be, as they seem to have captured a brief but lingering moment in time. Among these are the fifth and ninth tracks, respectively titled “Just Before You Leave” and “The Right Words are Simple”, as well as the lulling final piece, “All You Left Behind”.

A most comforting album of solitude and reflection, When the Sea Lets Go is one of the loveliest acoustic guitar recordings that I’ve heard recently, as well as a particularly suitable companion for reading, writing, reflection and remembrance. Vin Downes possesses a supremely beautiful guitar-playing style that boasts constant fluidity and subtle intricacy, as he creates a warmly intimate, personal and enveloping soundscape throughout. A fantastic album that is rather simple without a grand display of bells and whistles, Vin has decidedly taken a less-is-more approach here, which in this case works to absolute perfection! ~Candice Michelle

Links & Purchase: Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, Vin Downes

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