When the resonator guitar was first invented, it was to address a simple, practical need to help guitar players be heard in ensemble settings and cut through the din of the noisy venues where they performed. There are many other ways to address such needs these days, but none that offer the distinctive sound this instrument generates. Used traditionally, it instantly adds an earthiness and authentic Americana flavor to almost any piece of music. In the hands of Andy Cartwright (aka Seabuckthorn) however it is something else entirely – a seemingly bottomless well of unbridled creativity and a veritable builder of worlds. On his third full-length album entitled Turns, Cartwright adds a new dimension to the peregrine narratives and wide-screen atmospheres he created on I Could See the Smoke and They Haunted Most Thickly to create his most complete artistic statement yet.
‘Turns’ is far more of a cerebral experience than its predecessors. transitioning seamlessly between hypnotic long-form pieces, minimal harp-like ballads and the primal stomping world-builders that have become Seabuckthorn’s calling card. – Lost Tribe Sound
Cartwright forges a vivid collection of soundscapes shaped from the elements as he makes the most of the sharp metallic resonance of his primary instrument and then enhances it with bowing techniques, the addition of 12-string guitars, and primal percussion. Where additional gravitas is needed, Lost Tribe label-mate William Ryan Fritch contributes double-bass with their partnership at perhaps its most captivating on the mesmerizing “Dizzying Mountains”. Were he still making films today, Sergio Leone’s eyes would water at the prospect of having a piece like “Plateau’s Edge” to propel a climactic scene in one of his western while “Concerning Otherness” ponders a desolate imaginary landscape with a beautiful sadness.
But what makes Turns most alluring is the way these visceral and dramatic elements are tempered with a pastoral warmth that emerges as a welcome new dimension to the Seabuckthorn wheelhouse. The most prominent examples of this would be the evocative “Lanterns”, “Near Translucent” – an arpeggiated beauty that echoes the legendary style of Bert Jansch – and the title track which is perhaps Seabuckthorn’s most melodic and emotionally direct song to date. Rich, elemental, and masterfully rendered, this is an album that will stand up very well over the course of time.
Turns is available from Lost Tribe Sound digitally and in two physical editions – a 180g audiophile 12″ vinyl with a heavyweight reverse-print jacket (500 copies) or a glass-mastered CD in a handmade, hand-numbered package (150 copies). Discounts are available for those who sign up for the label’s subscription series ‘Lost Tribe Sound: A Prelude to Decline’. The stunning cover art is by none other than American contemporary artist Gregory Euclide also known for his work for Bon Iver and curator of the new Thesis project.