Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Pat Metheny: Whats It All About
Metheny's latest disc, What's It All About (full review on PopMatters right HERE) is a solo acoustic guitar recital of these kinds of tunes, mostly played on a uniquely-tuned baritone acoustic guitar. (A few songs are played on nylon string guitar or the 42-string "Pikasso" guitar.) In being a solo acoustic recording, the record is a follow-up to Metheny's One Quiet Night from 2003. The tunes here, however, are also united by being from this unique era of songwriting.
The most spare and surprising interpretation here is Metheny’s rethinking of Jobim’s “The Girl From Ipanema”. If you are like me, then you have heard this bossa nova chestnut played in countless piano bars, usually with an insulting anonymity. Metheny conceives it as a minimal exercise, using just a fragment of the melody and emphasizing a series of new harmonies that allow him to explore the texture and resonance of his instrument. If you release your expectations, then your ear will hang on every note and every fresh chord.
In addition, the album features the surf-rock classic "Pipeline", "The Sounds of Silence", "And I Love Her", and "The Girl from Ipanema", among other '60s tunes. Some listeners will find too fluffy, to noodly, but they're wrong. What's It All About is a beautiful statement, and not less good because it is mostly simple.