For those who know John Shannon through his collaborations with such diverse cutting-edge artists as Sonya Kitchell, Pyeng Threadgill, Hiromi and Haale - and through his own evolutionary instrumental group Waking Vision - his debut solo album American Mystic is sure to be an earopener.
Having earned a stellar reputation as a team player by injecting his sweeping, panoramic electric guitar vistas into everything from country rock to avant-garde jazz, John Shannon now displays several hitherto unexplored facets of his considerable talent: modern solo folk singer, songwriter and vocalist with a delicate, virtuosic touch on acoustic guitar.
Throughout American Mystic's 10 songs, the intimacy and universality of Shannon's songwriting is exposed via his feather-light whisper of a voice. He toys with the timing in his phrasing so that a word might arrive after a slight delay or be extended into the next chord change, and his intricate, closely miked, layered guitar lines - largely acoustic, with some electric guitar texturing - wrap around and complement those words, merging with them seamlessly. His ethereal, contemplative songs are one-on-one, personal narratives. Beginning with "Forgiveness," the album's opening track, Shannon sets up a template that he continues to explore more deeply with each new song as the album unfolds.