Gretchen Menn steps out on her own with her first solo album, and what an album it is! If you’re looking for traces of the AC/DShe and Zepparella covers she’s played in the past, forget it. If you’re looking for edgy, compelling, freshly minted instrumentals that take a musical journey like albums of old, you’ll find much to admire here. A gifted soloist with a style all her own, Gretchen possesses wonderful technique – the Beckian volume swells of “Déjà Vu,” the classically influenced, Buckethead-worthy lines of “Is It NotStrange,” and the Django-influenced, all-acoustic “Fast Crown” provide stellar examples. With Stu Hamm on bass and John Mader on drums, the ensemble arrangements “Captured Barricade” and “Struck Sleepless” will delight fans of Dixie Dregs-style fusion. And like Dregs leader Steve Morse, Gretchen’s strongest suit, for sure, is her compositional ability. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than on “Walking Shadow,” the only track on which she does not play. This haunting, soundtrack-worthy composition for solo violin was expertly performed by Emily Palen using Menn’s notated score. Major skills, folks. I, for one, can hardly wait for the next album.

Genre: rock, art music

Personnel:
Gretchen Menn – guitar
Stu Hamm – bass
John Mader – drums
Emily Palen – violin
Guest artists:
Angeline Saris – bass on “Scrap Metal”
Jude Gold – second acoustic guitar on “Fast Crowd”
Kirsten Menn – vocals on “Fading”

Track List:
1. Scrap Metal
2. Oleo Strut
3. Déjà vu
4. Valentino’s Victory Lap
5. Fast Crowd
6. Is It Not Strange
7. Captured Barricade
8. Walking Shadow
9. Struck Sleepless
10. Fading

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Gretchen Menn – Hale Souls 2012

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