Sound — 10
The heavenly tones of the acoustic guitar are explored by Lawrence Blatt who paints palatial landscapes and cozy atmospherics with the acoustic guitar on his latest recording "Emergence." Layering the acoustic guitar with orchestral elements including ringlets of the violin, viola, cello, penny whistle, and the English and French horns, Blatt's compositions resonate a comfy parlor music tint like the type of songs heard in street corner bistros and city plazas. The phrasing of the instruments meanders freely while sustaining a mellifluous sound. Mellow and limber, "Passing Up Bridges" has a Baroque coloring, aged and sonically pleasing as Lila Sklar's violin and Jim Rothermel's penny whistle dance elegantly around the willowy tendrils of Blatt's mandolin and the jovial scrolling of his accordion.
The sweet sounds of Charlie Bisharat's violin move in accordance with the soft billowing gusts of Blatt's guitar in "The Place Where Monarchs Go" creating a pacifying mood that transcends language barriers and cultural differences. Blatt switches gears to a somber mood in "Polonoye" showcasing an ominous-slant expressed in Sklar's strings as Blatt's guitar comforts the melancholy hue of the swaying strings resembling the traditional tones of gypsy/folkloric customs. The lullaby pulsing in "Where the Pines Once Stood" has a sleepy sonorous which changes to a sprightly ambience in "Say Hello Again" as the refracting chords performed by cellist Eugene Friesen give the track a darker texture brushed against the summery palette of the violins.
The prancing beats lining the title track have an amiable gait supporting the wingspan of Blatt's acoustic guitar, while the soft sprigs of strings and gentle musings in the chord patterns ornamenting "Walking among Tulips" reflect the open airiness of an expansive meadow. The orchestral laces traipsing across "Gare Du Nord" garner a festive feel in conjunction with the guitar's acoustic trimmings, and the nimble chord movements in Blatt's fretwork along "Illuminations" display a tranquilizing artistry that mirrors the succor effects Bob Ross' paintings have on audiences.
Lyrics — 9
All of the tracks on the album are instrumentals though each instrument moves in a lyrical manner and adds to the sonic tapestries colors, vibrancy, and organically formed structures. This makes audiences pay attention to the instruments, they way they move around each other and the atmospheres they create while working together. It does not hurt the album that there no vocals added to the compositions, but to avoid unbalancing the overall rating, I gave the album a score of 9 in this section, deducting one point in case anyone felt that lyrics are necessary and consider the lack of them a liability to the recording.
Overall Impression — 10
Blatt is a maestro at creating chord progressions that narrate human interest-style stories through the interaction and entwining of the instruments. Meticulously crafted and finely groomed, the compositions soothe the savage beast in the human spirit. "Emergence" is a kind of guilty pleasure that everyone knows they enjoy though it would make them appear like a pansy if they admitted to it. There is an innocence in the music that speaks to children, though the tracks are sophisticated in their complexities and refined in their harmonic forms. The sweet sounds emanating from Blatt's acoustic guitar have a hypnotic vibe that's universally well-liked.