On his debut solo album Embracing Clarity, 21-year-old Dubai-born guitarist Juan Dhas displays a musical sensibility well beyond his years. The album consists of seven original compositions that flow, flutter, and swell with the utmost restraint.
Dhas has firmly found his niche in the post-Metheny guitar lineage, fitting right in with players like Mike Moreno, Nir Felder and Matthew Stevens, all while maintaining a sound that is very much his own. His warm yet articulate tone assertively conveys the thoughtful voice-leading of his chord-voicings (particularly on the second track, “Motive”) as well as his nearly seamless melodic sensibility.
Dhas’ Quartet, which consists of Benjamin Furman on piano & Fender Rhodes, Alex Gorchesky on bass, and Aaron Lawson on drums, finds a near-perfect balance between realizing the compositions and individual expression. There is never a moment of perceptible disagreement within the group, and their cohesion and comfort as a unit is highlighted most noticeably on the tune “Light in the Dark”, which finds the similar timbres of Rhodes, electric bass, and electric guitar so unified in dynamic and melodic contour that they could easily be mistaken for a single instrument.
Much of the album remains in the well-trodden style of straight-eighth-note ECM floatiness, which allows the quartet ample room to breath. The only two deviations, “Wired” and “Let Go”, offer brief forays into the funk and ballad realms, respectively, but neither veer too far from the core vibe, which allows an overall sense of consistency to permeate the album.
The seven tracks combined clock in at a solid 53 minutes, which is just enough to leave the listener both satisfied and wanting more. This album is well worth a listen and I excitedly look forward to future releases from Juan Dhas.
Embracing Clarity can be found on Spotify and iTunes, or purchased directly from Dhas through Bandcamp.