Fingerstyle guitarist, music teacher and composer Lance Allen rang in the New Year with the release of his fifth album, String Poet, an alternative folk effort featuring bright, upbeat instrumentals with infectious hooks. In contrast to Allen’s previous releases, it’s pretty evenly split between happy-go-lucky melodies and reserved, placid guitar work. However, as much as I appreciate the calm instrumentals, the faster the picking, the longer the song lingers in my head.
String Poet, the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign (not only did Allen meet his goal in one day, but he exceeded it by more than $2,000), opens in a jaunty mood with “Up on Cloudstreet” and is followed by “Ezra’s Groove,” a riveting tune in the same vein as Nickel Creek’s instrumental tracks. Two more album highlights, “Skye Boat Song” and “Sail On,” rest comfortably in the middle and easily pass as lullabies. To set his recording apart from other fingerstyle guitar releases, Allen enlisted the help of two talented musicians—violinist Avery Bright and cellist Paul Nelson. Bright and Nelson’s contributions are particularly valuable on “Just a Moment,” in which the faint lulls of the violin and cello complement Allen’s gentle fingerpicking.
The album drifts away with a breezy, two-minute ditty called “Grocery Store Tune,” and, like the song title suggests, I can’t help but imagine someone strolling through the aisles of an old general store. If the saying is true—that life moves slower in the South—this track, as well as the album as a whole, is an ode to country living. It takes you back to warmer months when a porch swing and a glass of lemonade are all you need for contentment.
String Poet is available on iTunes and Spotify, where Allen’s included on the official Spotify playlist “Acoustic Concentration.” Keep up with him at lanceallenmusic.com or on YouTube at GuitarLancer.