'Tis the Season-Solo Steel-String Guitar Music for
Dog Boy Records is pleased to announce the fourth solo guitar release by multi-instrumentalist Tom Ball. On this new CD Ball tackles some of the world's most memorable holiday music. Alongside new finger-style arrangements of such beloved classics as Silent Night, God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen and Joy to the World, the guitarist has also chosen several lesser-known obscurities such as the sublime O Come Emmanuel, the Swedish hymn Day by Day and Agustín Barrios's brilliant Villancico de Navidad (A Christmas Carol.) In addition to the varied material, another standout aspect of this recording is the use of a vintage steel-stringed instrument -- in this case a 1936 Gibson L-00. While other players have recorded some of these pieces on the classical (nylon string) guitar, very few of these selections have ever been rendered on steel strings. The result is an ultra-warm resonance, with an unusual clarity of attack and an often shimmering presence. Expertly played and recorded with tube microphones over the span of a year, A Steel-String Christmas transports the listener to a world of traditional holiday music from Italy, England, Sweden, Ireland, France, Austria, Paraguay, Scotland, Germany and the U.S.A. Once again, in Tom Ball's capable hands it's all simply guitar music -- and fine guitar music indeed. ---------------------------------------------------------- REVIEWS: Tom Ball brings us solo steel-string guitar music for the holidays on T'is The Season (Dog Boy 08 2009 ). Normailly he partners with guitarist Kenny Sultan in a blues duo or plays as a sideman to the likes of Kenny Loggins and Jimmy Buffet, but here he brings us traditional carols from around Europe, the U.S., and Paraguay. This is Ball's fourth solo guitar release, and he plays in a clean and crisp fingerpicking style on a vintage 1936 Gibson guitar. Standout tracks include 'Once in Royal David's City,' in which he amazingly plays two different contrapuntal voices; 'Day By Day,' a lovely traditional Swedish melody; 'Packington's Pound,' a tune from Shakespeare's time that is usually heard on lute, but here makes an effective jump to guitar; and 'Simple Gifts,' the traditional Shaker tune, on which the stunning arrangement with intriguing harmonies belies the title. This introspective and heartwarming recording presents some customary tunes in interesting new arrangements and some less-familiar melodies that are equally pleasing. -- Dirty Linen Magazine #144 If Santa Claus were a guitar player, he'd have given his elves time off to wax ''Tis The Season.' With only his trusty 1936 Gibson PG-00 Plectrum (converted into a six string in 1981 by Jim Lombard) in hand, virtuoso Tom Ball makes the holidays bearable (in-laws!) with a fine collection of traditional Christmas music from Italy, England, Sweden, Ireland, France, Austria, Paraguay, Scotland, Germany, and the U.S.A. Aside from his crystal clear tone -- the most intriguing aspects of Ball's folksy / classic style is his voice-like phrasing, along with his brilliant sense of dynamics and time. Witness the cold hearts of hipsters melt when they hear the jazzy interludes Ball drops in 'Have Yourself A Merry Christmas' or the flourishes of What Child Is This (Greensleeves).' 'Joy To The World' is rendered in a downright anthemic fashion (where's Bono?). The finale is fittingly a brisk, seamless medley of 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'O Christmas Tree.' Ball's arrangements certainly breathe new life into these time-worn standards -- pour me another egg-nog! -Minor 7th, Nov/Dec 2009 © Tom Semioli The sound of this solo steel-string set of holiday instrumentals (engineered by David West) is as impressive as Ball's formidable playing. More classical in it's approach (despite the instrument of choice, a converted '36 Gibson PG-00) than, say, John Fahey's Christmas albums, it nevertheless offers fresh takes on standards like "Silent Night" and features too-overlooked tunes like "Packington's Pound." -Vintage Guitar Magazine, Jan 2010 - DF (Dan Forte) Many years ago John Fahey set the bar high for steel-string solo guitar holiday music. Using a 1936 Gibson, Ball comes close for his fealty to strong melodies, disciplined imagination and ability to draw out the warmth of carols and little-known traditional folk material from America and Europe. Neither sentimental nor showy, this Californian with long service to folk and blues makes songs like 'Renaissance Fantasia' and 'The First Noel' worth hearing all year long. -Downbeat, Dec 2009 - Frank-John Hadley.