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Published: 2002/10/25
by Chris Gardner

American Gypsy – Tony Furtado

What Are Records?

A Phone Script or The Standard Dodge

Gardner: Heyman.

Schlief: Heyman. Whatcha doin'?

G: Chillin'. Gotta write a review.

S: For what?

G: For Jambands man.

S: No shit. What's the album?

G: Oh. Furtado.

S: Skull cap and a banjo?

G: Acoustic slide too.

S: He wrecks.

G: Yup.

S: Stop typing and talk to me dude.

G: Sorry man. Deadlines.

S: (sighs) So whatcha got so far?

Tony Furtado has it. Whatever "it" is, he's got it in spades. A top flight
banjo player, Furtado also plays an absolutely sick acoustic slide guitar.
it's sick. He reworks traditional material with zeal, updating and often
completely reworking tunes without losing sight of their strength, the
emotional center that-

S: That's it?

G: Yup.

S: Due tomorrow?

G: Yesterday actually. Jesse's just bein' cool.

S: You're screwed.

G: ........

S: Are you really going to say "absolutely sick"?

G: I dunno. It's not like I'm lyin', but it ain't exactly poetry.

S: So is the whole disc good?

G: There's a Mike Nesmith tune.

S: Goofy-ass Monkee Mike Nesmith?

G: Yup.

S: He the tall one?

G: Dunno.

S: Didn't he hang out with the Beach Boys or something?

G: Dunno.

S: Yuck.

G: It could be worse. It's sappy, but I think he knows it.

S: Does he sing a bunch?

G: Not much. He does "Staggerlee".

S: What the hell is "Staggerlee"?

G: Nevermind.

S: Whatcha doin' for Halloween?

G: Yup.

S: You're still typin' dude.

G: Yup.

S: So?

_His chief talents lie in composition. The finest moments of the disc
resonate with a deep sense of place. "Bottle of Hope" exudes a
self-assured soulfulness and a hard won contentment. "Kentucky Stripmine"
finds him exhausted, wheezing slow, desolate, world-weary blues on the
electric guitar. He sounds at once resolved and acquiescent, a broken man
trudging onward for lack of anything better to do. In just over two
minutes, he faithfully renders the scope of a man's life without uttering a
word — an instrumental documentarian. "Promise of a Better Day," which
pairs Furtado with pianist John R. Burr, processes with a stately grace. It
is communal where the others are isolated._

S: I like the sense of place idea.

G: Stole it from Glennard. Think he stole it too.

S: So what's left?

G: You name it man. There's an Irish folk medley thing. He does a few
tracks with a full band.

He wrote a great tribute to John Hartford-

S: "Steam-Powered Aeroplane" guy?

G: Yup.

S: So… can't you just say it's wildly eclectic and leave it at that?

"American Gypsy" is wildly eclectic.

G: Guess I can.

S: So you done?

G: Just a sec.

Tony Furtado has voice. His fretwork speaks clearly, regardless of the
instrument. Voice separates the good from the great, and his rings true.
American Gypsy, building on the strength of last year's self-ti
release, showcases a gifted composer who just so happens to be a sick
guitar player.
Seriously. I mean… sick.

G: Alright.

S: So, what are you doing for Halloween?

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