Those that know me know that I'm not a big fan of hippy music, or
jam bands. And so I have always avoided going to see the Tony Furtado
Band live, as I knew I would be in for a night of extended jamming
and such nonsense. But at the same time, I have always held it inside
of my head that Furtado himself was a great guitar player and a more
than sufficient songwriter. So when I found out that he was releasing
a disc of songs recorded live, just him and an acoustic guitar, I
jumped at the chance to check it out. I was certainly not disappointed,
as Tony's guitar playing has only gotten more soulful, as well as
more technically proficient, over the years. The heart of good music
is in good songs, and those that were chosen for inclusion on Bare
Bones are among his own best, as well as some brilliant covers
and traditional standards.
Kicking off the record with "These Chains" is somewhat
prophetic, as the blues heavy slide guitar work perfectly sets the
mood for the remainder of the album. The only guest appearance on
the recording is found here with the incomparable Susan Marshall
lending her hauntingly resonant voice to the song to build the depth
of tension and beauty. The instrumental "The Angry Monk"
is a dirgey, beautiful instrumental that morphs seamlessly into the
great story of "Raleigh And Spencer", filled with tragedy
and remorse. "Standing In The Rain" is one of Furtado's
finest songs, and this version focuses much more on the beauty of
the song itself, rather than what a full band can bring to a production.
This song is pure and true, full of heart - a standout of the neo-folk
movement. Furtado's cover of Tom Petty's "Running Down
A Dream" is much more listenable than the original - even though
it seems an odd pick to play - and is filled with that great slide
guitar/fingerpicking guitar style for which he is best known. The
slowdown of "Can You Hear The Rain" makes for a nice break
from the almost bluegrass hop of most of Bare Bones; the track
is melancholy and beautiful, full of delicately resonant slide playing.
Truly, this song is a standout for me.
"Rove Riley Rove" is what got me interested in this album
in the first place, and no matter how many times I listen to it, I
am still filled with the jumpy sense of joy that I got when I first
listened. This song has a personal connection for me, as I have some
childhood memories associated with it, but this version is the most
amazing I've ever heard. The night this was recorded, Furtado was
obviously in sync with the audience as only a great performer can
be. The energy of the song is amazing, as is the talented playing
of Tony Furtado. This song's much more Travis style picking
and jangling slide playing lend a bluegrass feel to the melancholy
of the song, creating a nice juxtaposition of style and mood. Switching
to his banjo, Furtado delivers a nice instrumental treat with The
Beatles' "I Will" coupled into a medley with his own
"Hazel Comes Home" and "Willow John". The wickedly
syncopated version of the classic "Cypress Grove Blues"
makes a nice closing to a record full of intricate guitar playing
and beautifully moody and soulful music.
So perhaps I've been wrong these years. Per chance I should give
Tony Furtado another chance live, and drag my sorry old self
out to see him next time he's in town. If I got to experience just
half of what has been archived on this solo record, the trip would
be well worth it.
1. These Chains
2. The Angry Monk/ Raleigh And Spencer
3. Standing In The Rain
4. St. John's Fire/ Bolinas
5. Running Down A Dream
6. Can You Hear The Rain
7. False Hearted Lover's Blues
8. Rove Riley Rove
9. Oh Berta, Berta
10. I Will/ Hazel Comes Home/ Willow John
11. Cypress Grove Blues
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