"Echoes" (Inner Knot; 2008)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


This is my first experience with the world-renowned California Guitar Trio. Over the years California Guitar Trio (hereinafter referred to as the Trio) has consistently received solid reviews for their studio work and live albums – so, I’m a little shocked and a tad disappointed that it took this long for me to hear the Trio’s work.

The Trio consists of American Paul Richards, Belgian native Bert Lams, and Tokyo resident Hideyo Moriya – none of whom actually appear to reside or are from California. But cursory research suggests that the “California” part is in part due to the Trio’s penchant for surf music and the West Coast summer-loving musical joy that comes from watching sunsets over the ocean horizon.

“Echoes” is the Trio’s seventh studio album and thirteenth overall.  “Echoes” features a combination of classical interpretations, surf music, and choice cover songs. Apparently the Trio like to sprinkle a few originals throughout their albums, but there are no originals on “Echoes.” The Trio’s fusion of a wide variety of styles can truly be considered cosmopolitan – that makes the band and this album truly unique. The songs on “Echoes” are played almost entirely using acoustic guitars; however, the Trio’s performances are enhanced by the occasional electric guitar, bass, viola, Theremin, and vocals.

In a nod to the Rough Edge audience I’ll focus on the rock classics that are covered here. These include Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird,” and Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” is impressive because hearing the three piece guitar set-up replicating the hundreds of tracks used to create the music and vocal choir is in one of the world’s best known songs is a trip in and of itself. The performance of “Echoes” is astounding because you’ll actually forget you’re listening to guitars as the song evolves over its 12 minutes. “Freebird” in the hands of the Trio straddles the line between staying true to the original yet somehow including an eventually new take on the indisputable classic song. A cover of the folk-influenced Krokodil’s “And I Know” is also included, but it is extremely likely any regular Rough Edge reader would have heard that original.

The surf songs and classical pieces are probably unknown to the traditional Rough Edge reader, but each contains a certain (upbeat) energy and joie-de-vivre that makes listening to “Echoes” a pleasure at all turns.

While certainly not a metal or hard rock record, a savvy listener of music will find much to appreciate in the stellar performances, deft arrangements, and superior technical skills of all the musicians.  Longtime fans of the Trio will appreciate the subtle expansion of the band’s signature style.

“Echoes” was produced by Tyler Trotter.

California Guitar Trio is Paul Richards, Bert Lams, and Hideyo Moriya.  The Trio is joined by Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin, Kevin Ratterman, Bonnie Billy, Pamelia Kurstin, Davide Rossi, Jamie Masefield, Tom Griesgraber, and Tyler Trotter in various guest appearances.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Dec 2018 12:03:11 -0500.