Truth is


Reviewed by: Jon Nolan


For: The Wire


Sometimes instrumental guitar releases are too application dependent-in other words, they're good as background music for a dinner party, or a lazy Sunday afternoon when you're bumming around the house, but maybe too sleepy for long drives or the iPod downtown. Chris O'Neill does a fine job of avoiding that trap on "Truth is...", his latest release of solo guitar music.

O'Neill provides some up tempo numbers in addition to the sweet and mellow melodies, which makes for a nice pace worthy of the above applications. "Too Bad" is one of the fast songs, and a highlight.  If features O'Neill's busy and dexterous thumb thumping a jazzy bass line on the low strings while his other finger comp out some nifty voicings around it.  "Ladders" puts the thumb back to work for another impressive jazz number.  Second Sundae is the kind of beautiful Sunday afternoon song I mentioned earlier, a pleasant and meandering finer picked song with chime-y stringwork and the occasional accent of a plucked harmonic.  This is really great material played by a really great player.

O'Neill recorded this during The Wire 's RPM Challenge in February, and as he says on his Web site, he recorded it "completely solo and without any digital editing, multi-tracking or other manipulations."As a result, there is the occasional stray digital clip, which can certainly be forgiven given the challenge's speedy album in a month criteria, but it doesn't really get in the way of enjoying the material too much.  The album's fine content does deserve better packaging, though-an album cover that will help buyers take the music as seriously as O'Neill clearly does.

-Jon Nolan