“The Space Below”
Jim Carr is from Auburn, Alabama and has written a serious as well as beautiful piece of work called, “The Space Below”. Carr plays a custom acoustic Johnny Rushing guitar that I would have sworn was mic-ed, but after talking with the artist came to find out was recorded direct with a LR Baggs pick up. In addition he plays electric guitars as well as a fat ESP 5-string bass as well as doing percussion within the tracks. Carr co produced the work with Todd Zimmerman at Studio 139, Kalamazoo, Michigan and literally tracked at home and sent to Zimmerman for mix down. Carr is supported on drums and percussion by Mike Curtis. Curtis is a huge asset to the work, always complimenting, never taking away from Carr’s phrasing or notes.
“Nick’s Web” bounces out with a nice polished acoustic feel that is a bit like the rain out my window today, it just flows. There is a warmth to the guitar and gentleness to the tune that draws the ear in, never overpowering, but playful in it’s richness. The bass and percussion add to this cut with a surety that adds to, never takes away from Carr’s facility on his instrument. This is just a playful nice tune. “ Solace” opens quietly with precision of a master player and then expands as the bass enters to a warm feel. What I like now by the second cut is that Carr is not afraid of silence and uses it as another instrument to augment his work. This is a rare treat these days of heavily laden material.
There is some comparison to other groups or players in the field of instrumental music or better phrased guitar based music on Carr’s PR sheet, but I think limiting. There are influences I hear, which are not listed as well as an originality that can not be denied or compared with others. Carr is a student of the instrument and the field he toils in, that is very evident in the listen of his work. Jim Carr also loves the sound of the instrument; that is what is reflected the most.
The third track, “Mother” unfolds gently, incased with acoustic and electric guitar. The bass work on this cut is very complementary to the vibe as is percussion. “Child” again is beautifully crafted, but again what shines or sets up this tune is the sounds Carr creates with the bass. Deep and wide; it ensconces the other instrumentation like a mother would hold a child.
“Three Paths Converged” breaks away from the rest of the pack with a bigger footprint. This is the track that illuminates just how good and careful Mike Curtis is with Carr’s work. Simply put, the tune is diverse in its depth and production, it’s a nice break from the mode Carr lays on the tracks prior to this one. This is followed by the tender, “ I Burn For You”, which is played to the hilt on guitar, but again the bass work on this track allows that tenderness to unfold on the listener. The tune takes some amazing turns and twists that are unexpected and Carr’s facility at his instrument is incredible.
“Planxty Irwin” is a playful tune full of wonder and exhilarated playing as Carr weaves many textures in this composition that work on many levels. “Last of Three” and the final tune, “ Forgotten Things” round out a well thought out production that illuminates the study, work, production, care and feeding of a fine guitarist. This is one of the best projects I have had the pleasure to review.
[Christopher Brant Anderson]