Ben Woolman follows in the footsteps of great acoustic guitarists who need no accompaniment. He supplies clear, concise bass notes mixed with lovely melodies and chord changes to form songs that sound like two or three guitars.
Many Moods uses no overdubs, and the majority of its 11 cuts here were composed by Woolman. All offer great playing and memorable moments; “One Afternoon” is a sprightly tune that perfectly shows his right-hand mastery as the lovely changes mix with non-stop bass notes. The minor key of the jaw-dropping “Mazurka Dance” has an amazing bass line that counters the chords and melodies. He shows jazz inf luences on “Salamander Swing” with its jazzy chords and melody. For straight blues, he uses some of Blind Blake’s own music to embellish his “Blake Says.”
His covers include The Police’s “Invisible Sun,” which he gives a perfectly moody spin, while James Horner’s theme from Legends of the Fall captures the orchestral majesty of the original.
Woolman is the latest in a line of players that includes Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges. He doesn’t always go out on a limb the same way, but his technique is f lawless and his feel is very comfortable.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.