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stew's reviews
in blackrose acoustic newsletter

updated: 06/18/09

The Black Rose  

Stew’s Reviews
Phil Volan & Joleen Bell

Coupstick Music—

Sonically, the CD Carousel by Phil Volan and Joleen Bell can’t be beat. The recording of the guitars is warm and clean with just the right amount of reverb to add texture and presence. Musically, the interplay of the two guitars blend so perfectly that each piece comes across as a whole composition rather than two guitars playing a song in much the same way you would listen to a symphony and not necessarily each instrument in the orchestra. The fingering is clean and the phrasing of each guitar echo and weave seamlessly. Starting with the opening harmonics of “Carousel,” each guitar teases, withdraws and pursues each other like two children on an afternoon outing. The pursuit strengthens in “Celtic D” and by the time we get to the third track on the disc, “Too Late,” there appears some familiarity in their playing and the two guitarists bring snippets of the English folk tune “Anji” and what appears to be a melody line from The Zombies “She’s Not There” interwoven into the song. “Bell’s Toll” adequately captures the song’s title with a repeated octave passage building to a sweet cacophony of sounds until we have a sea of ringing bells produced by their two instruments. Not big on song names (“Celtic D,” “Dooley- Whoppy Thing,” “Phil’s Reel,” “Phil’s Other Reel”) Phil and Joleen let their playing speak for them. This is acoustic guitar at its best, and best you pick up Carousel if you love the sound of acoustic guitar.