Review: Derek Patton “Bright Grey”

Derek Patton “Bright Grey”

12 Apr, 2011 Dan MacIntosh

A recent Earl Klugh concert was a reminder of how refreshing it is to hear a master acoustic guitarist in his element. Today’s rock players have so many effects pedals at their disposal that it’s sometimes difficult to decipher where the talent ends and the technology begins. In some cases, these electronic devices make it so that the guitar doesn’t even sound like a guitar anymore.  Derek Patton is an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist. His new 16-track album, Bright Grey, is a special treat for those that enjoy hearing the guitar played well.

On Bright Grey, Patton has done a wonderful job of balancing many different factors. For one thing, he is a classically trained guitarist, yet he doesn’t rely on overly familiar classical pieces. Instead, he composed all of these tunes himself, and has an excellent knack for writing. As proof, just listen to the fast finger work on “Eleventh Hour.” Nevertheless, you don’t have to be a guitar geek to enjoy Bright Grey. In other words, these songs all have what pop aficionados describe as “hooks.”  Yes, you will oftentimes find yourself humming along with Patton’s tunes.

Amazingly, Patton has found a way to balance the complicated guitar elements with the necessary melodic factors. Therefore, most of these compositions somehow come off memorable, yet still seem difficult to play.  Patton also knows how to keep the music simple when it needs to be. A piece called “Marjorie & Athena” has a beautiful melody, and Patton simply applies finger picking patterns to give the music a shimmering effect. It has an undeniably peaceful affect on the listener.

Patton’s spiritual beliefs many times influence the way he titles his various songs. In the middle of the CD, for instance, there are three compositions with the names “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Love.” These words are taken directly from a New Testament Biblical passage. Also, “Eleventh Hour,” which is one of the album’s more dramatic pieces, relates to the “events surrounding the arrest and betrayal of Jesus, His being led out of the Garden into the darkness of night…abandoned by His disciples,” as Patton has explained it.

Bright Grey is simply a treasure trove of musical delights. Derek Patton is a gifted musician and talented composer. It’s not every day that an album like this one comes along. It will appeal to guitarists because of its advanced fingerpicking work, and it will be just as treasured by those that appreciate original instrumental work in general, and fine guitar playing in specific. These recordings are sounds for sore ears, especially due to the fact the seemingly every other song on the radio features a vocalist using auto-tune and a programmed-to-the-hilt instrumental track. In contrast, this CD is just one man with one guitar, creating musical magic.

Review by Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)