Jimmy Wahlsteen 181st Songs Echoes CD of the Month for January

Swedish musician Jimmy Wahlsteen Channels Pop into Fingerstyle Guitar.

You can hear an Audio Version of this blog, with Jimmy Wahlsteen’s music.

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On the cover of his debut album, 181st Songs, Jimmy Wahlsteen just looks too stylish to be a fingerstyle guitar slinger.  GQ poses and an androgynous look aren’t the norm for the usual grizzled or blandly clean-cut anti-image approach favored by most fingerstyle players.  But then you hear the impressive technique and realize he isn’t like a lot of finger-style players anyway.

Wahlsteen has all the post-Michael Hedges guitar approaches down, including two-handed tapping, playing percussion on his guitar and more.  But this isn’t a simple guitar-picker’s anthem.  The Swedish born musician grew up as a fan of Kiss, and has spent the first part of his young career playing on pop music sessions. He brings a keen melodic ear and arranging sensibility to his music.  A song like “Suffice to Say” could be a pop ballad, with its song structure and use of electric guitar accents.

Wahlsteen can burn the house down with technique, which he does on “The Urge to Gossip,” a jazzy romp complete with horns, but he can also wax pastoral on “Carry Me,” a gentle song backed by a string trio. Wahlsteen doesn’t credit it on the album, but you can hear subtle processing effects in his playing.  He introduces “Rapid Eye Movement” with a delay sound reminiscent of U2‘s The Edge and on “You Gotta Run Real Fast to Stand Still,” he uses shimmering harmonics and electric guitar shadings that exhibit his open ended approach to finger-style guitar.

The title of the CD comes from the street on which Jimmy Wahlsteen lived in New York City, 181st Street. That’s where he wrote most of an album on which he does it all, even picking out the cut you’ll like best.  It’s called “It’s your Favorite.” Jimmy Wahlsteen’s 181st Songs is on Candyrat Records and it’s our favorite for January and it’s the Echoes CD of the Month.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
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