Lucid Culture


CD Review: Roland Satterwhite – Ptolemy’s Guitar

New York expat (and now Berlin resident) multi-instrumentalist Roland Satterwhite has an enviable resume, perhaps best known for his violin work with Jenifer Jackson and Howard Fishman. An imaginative, melodic player with a terrific improvisational sense, he’s also a songwriter and something of a crooner. This low-key cd – available for free download here – is a rare glimpse of what he does when he’s not playing sideman. Here, he doubles on acoustic guitar and violin, with Matt Kanelos supplying characteristically thoughtful, imaginatively textured keyboard work. Satterwhite’s vocals are casual and quiet as befits a bedroom recording (which this is, although the sound quality is excellent). The tunes are typically pensive, major-key and somewhat minimalist, with an Americana feel always somewhere in the background.  


The opening cut Sixty Five sets the tone with an attractive, repetitive fingerpicked guitar figure. Room By Room is a beautiful pop song: “I can’t deny it, I’m better without you, but part of me keeps fighting the truth,” Kanelos’ organ chords sneaking in, methodically warming the room. Pensive piano mingling with guitar arpeggios, George Washington Bridge is darkly inscrutable, drawing the listener in for the story: is this a suicide song or not?


After an improvisation with ambient violin and guitar set to an insistent, hypnotic rhythm, the cd’s most overtly Americana song, Louisa follows, just vocals and guitar. The version of Pennies From Heaven here is nothing if not tasteful with its understated optimism and whimsically bluesy violin solo, followed by an all too brief, second improv with a wistful, minimalist, Asian-inflected feel.


Indian Ocean is another casually beautiful pop song, a woman matter-of-factly setting off for a new life faraway. The cd wraps up with the tongue-in-cheek, jazz-inflected Angelina, with an obvious Jenifer Jackson influence, and then a third quiet, gently sparkly improv instrumental. Put this on the ipod or the boombox late at night and let your mind wander.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment