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CD REVIEW: Si Hayden - Steel Roots
By Chip Withrow - 06/23/2008 - 10:13 AM EDT

Artist: Si Hayden
Album: Steel Roots
Label: Silvery Records
Genre: Solo guitar instrumental
Sounds Like: Ry Cooder, Scotty Moore, Pete Townshend
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Moondance, Folsom Prison Blues, Flat Spot, Just a Bit of Fun
CD Review: About a year and a half ago, I reviewed Si Hayden’s Nylon … for Now. I was very impressed by his solo acoustic guitar virtuosity. I still am, and I like Steel Roots even more.

Hayden is still firing off dizzying runs, punctuated by percussive slaps against his guitar. His chord work is full and propulsive. Like Nylon, Steel was recorded in single takes. But Steel Roots is more accessible – to me, at least.

The 12 tracks here are concise, melodic, often rocking. Hayden delivers toe-tapping bluesy jazz (the original “Flat Spot” and his smoking take on Van Morrison’s “Moondance”), folk-country (the leap-out-of-the-speakers opener “Ellya” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”), Townshend-like power (“Hats Off to Pete Townshend” and “Just a Bit of Fun”) and flights of frenetic fancy (the dizzying “JD and Coffee” and the closing title cut).

Hayden often deftly shifts genres several times within songs, and with only one track over four minutes long, Steel Roots delivers wallop after wallop of solo guitar goodness with no time for boredom to set in.

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