“Glitchy” is probably the best word for the latest release from Mary Halvorson, a solo guitar album she titled Meltframe. This is not to say there’s something wrong with the album. It’s not riddled with errors. While Halvorson’s guitar certainly sounds intentionally fuzzy, it’s not rough in an overgrown sense. There isn’t some loss of control, this much is certain for the highly revered musician. There are instead ten songs here that are as carefully played as they are pensively explored, resulting in a rather interesting work.
Halvorson’s latest is a collection of compositions– Duke Ellington’s “Solitude”, Tomas Fujiwara’s “When”, Carla Bley’s “Ida Lupino”, among others. These are songs ranging through the jazz timeline, yet all these songs sound new and fresh under Halvorson’s hand. The fact that it’s a solo guitar album creates a sense of space that feels more like a canvas. It is truly the notes she isn’t playing that making this album sing, but the notes she is playing still sound pretty sweet. Thus, the format of the solo guitar album and the songs that Halvorson has chosen has in effect made space and time the constraints through which Halvorson can create with great aplomb– every rest is crucial, every note is doted upon. In a world of solo albums, Mary Halvorson’s latest is one where every nuance of it is geared toward holding the listener’s attention and every nuance indeed does so.
Meltframe, the latest album from guitarist Mary Halvorson, is out now on Firehouse 12 Records.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.