The North Wind and the Sun is a record of deep clarity and calm, looking out at the world with a pair of bright green eyes. By largely abandoning his electric guitar and taking up more traditional acoustic instrumentation, The Green Kingdom (Michael Cottone) reinvigorates and enriches his music, deepening the listening experience in the process.
The thicker gauge of the string gives the music additional weight as well as a full-bodied tone which gives rise to fragrant and ripe melodies. The fretboard drips with the very real scent of living rosewood. Magic lives inside The North Wind and the Sun: something innocent, sweet…so sweet…and enchanting. A simplification of sorts is happening here – at least technically (pedalboards and amps aren’t always needed, and that’s a good thing), and the daydreaming melodies recall simpler, brighter times. Good times. The acoustic is a physically demanding instrument, much more so than an electric. The switch can be punishing, as everything – and I mean everyyyyything – is exposed, and you are left open and alone in providing the music.
And this is where the simplification ends, because a musically complex world begins to unravel. Sunshine pours through. The acoustic guitar opens a kind of kissing gate, with its ornately-carved melodies walking towards a richer, healthier tapestry of sunlit song. Crisp and clear notes hang over the music, drooping like an arch coloured in upside-down leaves, adorning the music with its intricate, green-tinted melodies and its softly-spoken promises.
The acoustic’s thinking sweet, glowing thoughts of a youth that’s come and gone. Its very body grew up in a nestled place, right in the heart of the woodland’s ferns, and as such an effortless, natural world unfurls. Music soft enough for the glory of July’s evening light. Notes repeatedly fall to the ground…
…a pause for rain.
The electric guitar returns later on, sliding and gliding through the acoustic’s heavier chords, but it hangs back, all too aware of the acoustic’s limelight. A fragility exists within the lovingly woven music. A gentle picking mirrors the rippling of water and the quiet life of the river. The North Wind and the Sun is gorgeous. Prepare to fall in love. (James Catchpole)