Review: Dean McPhee – Son of the Black Peace

Son of the Black Peace is the sound of being alone with one’s thoughts; like a monologue that unravels contemplation into a smooth, clear narrative in which each emotion and thought is carefully pronounced out loud, one at a time. It’s the sound of being at peace and in a state of mental clarity, free to move between each note and chord without the distraction of any external influence. Each of these four pieces unfolds in the most unhurried manner, yet such a blissful disregard for time means that the whole experience passes incredibly quickly.

The album is entirely comprised of Dean McPhee’s solo guitar, dusted with a reverb that creates a sense of absolute solitude in a vast, empty place. With the exception of the excellently-judged wail of Ebow on “Cloud Forest”, the sound of McPhee’s fingers plucking each note dominates, inflected with tiny morsels of error (caught frets, string scrapes) that repeatedly bring the album back to the enchanting intimacy between a human player and his instrument. He’s undoubtedly an accomplished guitarist, although never is Son of the Black Peace a shameless demonstration of skill. Melody – and the emotion that drips through it – always takes precedence, and McPhee joins the likes of James Blackshaw in utilising effortless instrument understanding to create an unrestrictive, beautifully fluid synonymy with the guitar. Rather than command his instrument, McPhee dances gracefully with it.