Both guitar wizard and Hollywood soundtrack composer (Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Workman brings those worlds together on this bold, visionary project. His accessible style blends progressive, fusion, and film tunes into music unlike anything. For comparison, you might bandy names like Steve Morse, Frank Zappa, and Trevor Rabin, and you’ll be getting reasonably close to the mark.
Recording with an orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, Workman (see his feature interview in this issue) blazes on “North Star” with a wild, harmonized lead over lush strings. “All the Colors of the World” is slow and mesmerizing, a blend of guitar and orchestral arranging with bottleneck and acoustic shred. “Noble Savage” approaches traditional jazz-rock, with a funk vibe and Zappa-approved xylophone. He reveals country-tinged banjo rolls on “Arc of Life” before exploring the violin-strewn landscape. Expect the unexpected.
Fortunately, Workman likes to open the throttle on guitar leads, as on “Arc of Life,” with its pure fusion fretburning. The record concludes with a rapturous “Our Friendship,” with Workman’s fat-toned melody woven with symphonic textures.
Not everyone has a taste for rock with classical textures, but if so, grab this platter with supreme confidence. Lyle Workman is the best guitarist you’ve never heard of.
This article originally appeared in VG April 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.