WVA Program '97
Pictures - Stephen Bennett
Cimirron/Rainbird CD 012
Without a doubt, this is one of the most listenable CDs you can find. Mostly tunes that Bennett has written himself, these are compositions that are emotionally touching and artistically superb. Not only has Stephen done most of the writing on this CD, but he has also done most of the work, employing help from others on only five of the 21 selections. Naturally the magic of the recording studio helps Stephen play more than one instrument on some selections, but it underscores his instrumental talents.
One of the outstanding pieces on Pictures is a 5-part "Suite for Slavomir" (with reprise) which was inspired by a book, The Long Walk, relating the 1941 capture of a Polish calvary lieutenant by the Soviets. He escapes from a Soviet prison in the middle of the Siberian winter. With the help of several friends on support instrumentation, Stephen celebrates this touching story in the suite.
On "Life's Too Short (to be in a bad mood)" both guitars are played by Stephen, as well as on "Black Rock Shuffle." There's music here that can be as soothing as a quiet stream in the forest, as in "Karland August."
Pictures shows us Stephen Bennett's expertise as a guitarist and as a composer. It's an excellent album, well worth your time and money.
Acoustic Guitar, 6/97
Stephen Bennett, Pictures. Finger-style guitarist Stephen Bennett strives to convey images and impressions, with mostly pleasing results. "Linda's Garden," "Life's Too Short," and "6A.M." are tightly knit and tuneful. Bennett renders a compelling landscape of the soul with his "Suite for Slavomir," a portfolio of five pieces embellished with percussion, violin, and mandolin that at times resembles the acoustic fusion of Oregon and at other times the cerebral fantasies of Steve Tibbetts. Bennett also offers several nonorig-inal pieces, including Scott Joplin's "The Easy Winners" and the Irish classic "The Star of the County Down," on which his guitar work is particularly biting and crisp. (Cimirron/Rain-bird, 607 Piney Point Rd., Yorktown, VA 23692)