If Chet Atkins was still with us, he may very well have assigned fellow Tennessean Jack Pearson his C.G.P. (Certified Guitar Player) designation by now. Not that Pearson would have touted it; he’s far too modest, letting his guitar tell you everything you need to know. Which is more than most.
For three years, Pearson tore it up and added a brilliant new shimmer to The Allman Brothers Band as their slide guitarist alongside Dickey Betts. For three decades he’s been a first-call session player, and he’s dazzled Nashville locals and tourists alike in the classic venues with his spicy twists of blues, jazz, folk, country and rock. In every situation he finds himself in, whether with the stars, striving artists, or with his own bands, Jack Pearson plays with a complex dexterity and beautiful tone that astounds almost beyond reason, without ever coming off that way.
“Acoustic Guitar Volumes 1 & 2” contain exactly that, Pearson in the moment on acoustic guitar, stripped to the root of his soul, his talent, and his innate expressions of it. The 42 songs (21 on each volume) are at once low key, enticing, charismatic and electrifying. The variety presented is as wide as Pearson’s knowledge and imagination. For instance, “Well There it Is,” right in the middle of “Volume 2,” finds Pearson dancing delicately across his strings, creating lines that skip, jump and simply thrill. Indeed, there it is, surrounded by a gorgeous sea of melody. In “The Lord is My Rock” (Volume 1), Pearson’s deeply contemplative tones reflect his solemn spirituality. For “Get on with It” (2), he stomps John Lee Hooker-style, and on “Window Curtain and the Breeze” (1), he flutters in ragtime. “You and Me” (1) floats, Pearson painting a picture of love with gently brushed strokes. With the infectious “Give Happy” (2), Jack Pearson has created what should be a hit, besides a way of life.
The fingerstyle extravaganza “Let’s Jam I’ll Kick it Off” (1) and the complexities and Latin inflections of “Another Time” (2) seem to reflect backwards to Pearson’s days in the Allman Brothers, playing instrumental jams with distinct structures that reach to wild places. Piedmont blues stylist John Jackson, gospel blues fingerpicker Reverend Gary Davis (one of Pearson’s main heroes), folk visionary Leo Kottke, and others, also crop up in subtle style throughout these elegant performances. But in the end, only Jack Pearson could have created them. Fans will find it to be among the best music Pearson’s ever released. Cosmic string theory and manipulation that comes off living room-comfortable, flowing in crystal clear sound.
-Tom Clarke for Tahoe Onstage
‘Acoustic Guitar Volumes 1 & 2’
Label: Candlefly Records – jackpearson.com
Release: Aug. 26, 2022