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CD REVIEW: Si Hayden – Nylon ... for Now
By Chip Withrow - 01/11/2007 - 07:05 PM EST

Artist: Si Hayden
Album: Nylon ... for Now
CD Review: I feel somewhat out of my element reviewing this disc, but I’m going to do it because Si Hayden is such an impressive guitar player and Nylon ... for Now is full of interesting music.

I love the acoustic guitar, and I perform with one myself, but I prefer playing that’s considerably rawer than Hayden’s. I’d be much more at home reviewing a CD by someone who plays like John Lee Hooker or Jack Johnson.

Hayden’s dizzying flamenco-style runs are often cool, but sometimes over the top. I prefer to hear him playing pretty, ringing arpeggios. He’s even better when he leans into some meaty rhythmic chording.

Then there’s his unique percussion, which is him tapping on the guitar’s wood body. I wish he’d do it more often on this album, but these tracks were recorded in single takes, and providing all that rhythm on top of breakneck picking is, I’m sure, hard work.

I gained more appreciation for the first cut, “Like Fire,” when I very coincidentally cued it up as I was reading a short story about bullfighting. Flamenco undertones pop up throughout the album; “Like Fire” and “Symphony Solo” are the most notably Spanish-flavored numbers.

“One Weekend” is atmospheric, sad and Mark Knopfler-esque (it reminds me of a movie soundtrack Knopfler did many years ago). It also has a hopeful interlude, kind of like the things-will-get-better scene of a tearjerker movie.

“Are You Going To Eat All That?” gets really interesting when Hayden fires off slap bass-style riffs.

“Black Magic Nylon” is the strongest cut. It’s the most like a cohesive pop song – a full band could play along here. Hayden alone does a good job tearing this one up. It mines more of the jazz/funkiness that “Eat All That?” hints at.

“Armitage” boasts some triumphant strumming that is darn close to Pete Townshend style, a reminder that great guitar work can be simple. Hayden’s percussion technique is most noticeable here and on the propulsive opening and closing of the last song, “Sounds Better In Red.”

Fans of guitar virtuosity should check out Si Hayden, and I’m glad I did, too. I almost passed on reviewing Nylon ... for Now, but a few listens made me appreciate it on a heart-and-soul level as well as a technical one.

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