- Guthrie Trapp
- Pick Peace
Guthrie Trapp Records
To be honest, the last time Guthrie Trapp crossed my bow was four years ago, when he was touring with dobro master Jerry Douglas and they played the Strand Theater here in Rockland, ME. Douglas may have been the night’s star, but Trapp earned the crowd’s attention in his own way. Here’s an excerpt from my notes that night:
And when guitarist Guthrie Trapp (Douglas’ nephew, as it turns out) ripped into a lead, look out: all hands made room as Trapp stalked the stage, his steely facial expression looking as if he were defying any given laws concerning dexterity and physics. It was almost a relief to see him smile between songs.
Apart from his intensity, what I remember of Trapp from that night was his versatility, doling out everything from Tele twang to fierce flatpicking; gentle cascades to jazzy flurries. It was obvious the guy could do whatever he had a mind to – and you had to wonder what he would do if presented with an empty canvas on his own terms.
No more wondering: Guthrie Trapp has released his debut solo album. Pick Peace is virtuosity without unnecessary flash; beautifully recorded without sounding polished to death; and offers a fusion of sounds that manage to mix things up without losing their focus. This is the payoff for years of honing his craft as a featured sideman with others: Trapp’s Pick Peace is a fine piece of work.
Comparisons to Steve Kimock are inevitable: the light-hearted jazziness of the opener “Saint Tommy B” will make you think of Kimock’s “It’s Up To You”, for instance. Trapp hooks your ear early on with the song’s main riff, letting it bounce and weave around the Latin-flavored rhythms laid down by bassist Michael Rhodes, percussionist Dann Sherrill, and drummer Doug Belote. (Belote shares drum duties with Pete Abbott throughout the album.) The angular funk of “Monkey Bars” is another Kimock-like piece: Rhodes’ bass pursues Trapp on the jam as Abbott slowly builds the intensity; the three come spiraling back to earth towards the song’s end, touching down with a moment of silence before taking off on the main theme one last time.
Rhodes is not a flash bassist – he’s a just-right bassist; a foundation man whose presence is felt throughout the album. Listen to the steps Rhodes builds on the reflective title track, providing traction for Trapp’s melody. The fat and funky burble of his bass keeps “Zim Zam Zoom” on its toes; he’s the subtle-but-perfect underpinnings for the jazzy tango of “Patricia”.
Track after track, Trapp displays his ability to go way out without ever losing his grasp on a given tune’s melody. Check out his spacey explorations on the title track, his playful-but-wickedly-cool rose-in-the-teeth breakout on “Huevos Al Gusto” or his total-apeshit-bluesy-blowout on “Mudslide” (featuring special guest Reese Wynans laying down some magnificent B-3). Wynan – best known for his work with the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan – isn’t present for “Brews Blues”, but there’s definitely an SRV vibe going on. Belote and Rhodes keep it tight and stripped to the basics as Trapp plays the living hell out of his guitar, working his way from warm dollops of cool blues to no-holds-barred, eyes-closed full flail – landing the beast gently to end the tune (and the album).
It’s easy to forget that while Guthrie Trapp is certainly no rookie to the music scene, Pick Peace is truly his first album as a solo artist. Casual listeners and guitar freaks alike will find plenty to enjoy with Pick Peace – a debut that was worth waiting for.