Picks and Pans Review: Persona
Canadian classical guitarist Liona Boyd, sometimes billed as the "First Lady of the Guitar," has received three Juno Awards as Canada's Instrumental Artist of the Year and has studied under the guitar virtuosos Julian Bream and Alexandre Lagoya. (She has also been among those romantically linked with ex-Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau.) But she is probably most famous as the pretty, blond opening act for performers like Paul Anka, Gordon Lightfoot and Julio Iglesias and as a general hobnobber on the celebrity circuit. Her connections with these Las Vegas perennials have always undermined Boyd's credibility as a serious classical guitarist. Persona, her 10th album, will do little to change that, in an attempt at popularizing the classical guitar, Boyd uses high-tech studio gadgets such as computerized drums, piano and bass and blends them with the delicate sounds of the classical guitar. She also has recruited two guitar heavyweights from the plugged-in rock world, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. Gilmour's distinctive upper range riffs are unmistakable on the title track, yet while he is credited with playing guitar on two other songs, his ax is almost inaudible. Clapton throws in some of his standard bluesy guitar lines, but the lack of a distinct melody on Labyrinth reduces his trademark fills to just filler. Boyd has more success with the airy, bright Sun Child and Mother and Sister, which she performs with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Her playing is more intricate on these tracks and evokes more feeling than she does when her songs are driven by a drum machine. This might be ideal background music for your next wine spritzer and goat cheese party, where nobody listens too carefully; Boyd aficionados and classical guitar devotees will probably want to cue up only the mellower numbers or ignore the album altogether. (CBS)
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