B. Slinky – Light Over The City – Album Review
Would you believe it if I told ya I’ve technically been listening to this man slay his axe for more than SEVEN years at this point? Trust me when I tell ya, by the time I got around to listening to B. Slinky play guitar, he was already a virtuoso long before then…it’s been nothing but a pleasure to hear this guy’s music throughout the years whether it’s been through early projects like his work collaborating in Slinky-Athmoss, or later on in Athmossmusic – and now I get to hear the man’s solo tunes as well? I absolutely love my job.
LISTEN to that riff get the energy flowin’ will ya? “Endorphin” is filled with sonic adrenaline straight off the bat, taking about a forty-five second ride through its introduction before settling into the main meat of the opening track. B. Slinky will immediately prove just what an expressive and gifted player he really is, rocking his way into a combination of high-flyin’ energy, intense melody, and tremendously skilled musicianship as “Endorphin” gets his brand-new solo record movin’ off the line right quick. From the remarkable chops he’s got, to the precision movements he makes with his guitar – “Endorphin” instantly confirms that Light Over The City ain’t going to be your typical record – heck no! B. Slinky is clearly here and ready to PLAY – and he makes his skillset known straight away as the opening track launches itself through your speakers at full force, with accessible hooks and extreme talent on display for all to hear.
Dude really nailed his title-track on this album if you ask me – “Light Over The City” was continually one of my favorite tunes on this record, spin after spin – and throughout the course of this past week, I can say for a certainty, I’ve played this album a LOT! It’s rare to find an instrumental record this enjoyable in the independent music-scene if I’m being honest with ya…I can think of lots of comparable mainstream legends that I dig listening to as much as B. Slinky…but here in the realm of the independents, it’s crystal clear he’s a cut above the rest when it comes to the skills he’s got. Closest I can compare B. Slinky to, would be artists like Elmo Karjalainen, Marcelo Camela, or perhaps Alex Rosselli – but you get where I’m going with this I’m sure…it’s not like these four dudes are making brand-new albums EVERY day – they’re exceptions to the everyday rule. I rarely get to enjoy music like this, so I’ve been taking it all in throughout June so far, and I don’t wanna stop! At this point, I’m practically hoping July never comes at all, because June has been filled with the music of B. Slinky so far, and records like Light Over The City are a large part of the reason I’ve been enjoying it all as much as I have been. The man’s got straight-up impeccable technique and such a brilliant range of ideas in his music, and he really puts his skillset to work on “Light Over The City.” Obviously we know as listeners how much effort something like this song would require to make – certainly anyone that’s ever held a guitar in their own two hands would get it – but to hear how smooth & seamless it all sounds in the results B. Slinky has produced & put forth for us to hear…ahhh…what can I say? It’s genuinely something special to experience and equally spectacular to listen to – no matter who you are or what you normally listen to, I feel like we’ll all hear this guy’s adventurous & innovative music and approve it. Even the rhythm section in behind the guitars is jammin’ out to max capacity, movin’ & groovin’ along – all-in-all, it’s a well warranted nearly six-minutes in length that has audible hooks in radiant abundance.
Here’s a perfect example of how expressive the music of B. Slinky truly is though…and there’s almost no better way to highlight it than this third track. I’m sitting here listening to the record, writing my review as it plays – and obviously, every so often I have to look up to the screen and see what the title of a song is as I’m typing out the details – and I kept looping around to what sounded so…melancholy, despairing & desolate as this track played on…it’s called “2020 Year.” You see what I’m saying folks? Instrumental artists don’t NEED words to communicate…or at least, not the ones as gifted as B. Slinky is. “2020 Year” is another gem on this record that Light Over The City wouldn’t be complete without…you’ll go from what sounds like the torch of our humanity being snuffed out permanently, to the bright light of hope beaming in through the radiantly uplifting chorus of this song. No joke – it’s a BRILLIANT tune in the way B. Slinky has played it & has it structured as well…you can’t help but instantly connect to the sadness you’ll hear in the sound of “2020 Year” as it starts, and the same is equally true of the inspiration you’ll connect with as the clouds part & the song begins to brighten up – the dynamics in the writing are 100% spectacular. From where it starts…with almost a like…Spanish-guitar-like beginning, to the addition of the strings & the forlorn atmosphere that “2020 Year” begins with – you’d almost assume that it would remain mired in the melancholy…but hearing that first burst of audible sunshine around the ninety second mark was more than comforting – it’s sincerely a relief…like confirmation that we’re all gonna come out of the past two years and be more okay than we realized as we head on towards the future. From the low-end of his frets, to the highest of notes – B. Slinky plays with highly impressive talent and relentlessly expressive sound throughout, captivating your mind every bit as much as your heart as well.
He sure knows exactly how to get a real meaty sound out of his guitar…and overall, Light Over The City makes an extremely strong case for how an artist like B. Slinky should be mentioned in the same breath as many of the greats like Vai or Satriani. While he CAN clearly shred it up like they can – he also makes many of the same smart choices in terms of when to light up the fret board, and when not to as well. As in – if it was JUST an album full of sensational shredding, the general population out there would get completely bored within three tracks…and B. Slinky, much like those amazing guitarists he likely looks up to himself for inspiration, all know that great instrumental music is about so much more than that. So you’ll hear a track like “This Is Your Day” and the immaculate way it shifts between real highlight moments that deserve our attention for the intricate skills, sure – but you’ll also hear a SONG that the average everyday listener can still connect with as well. Honestly, that’s crucial when it comes to finding the balance between what you wanna play as an instrumental artist and what the people out there in the world will willingly listen to…B. Slinky has an extraordinary understanding of what to play & how to go about playing it – make sense? He plays his music like he knows what the people really wanna hear, while still finding time to display superhuman instrumentation & chops that’ll fully drop your jaws in amazement. I really found this cut to be genuinely thrilling…it’s got such a mix of sonic depth to it, and such a wildly radiant palette of inspired sound & ideas…there are the kind of results to be fully proud of.
“There Will Always Be A New Dawn” further proves the points I was making earlier on about the way that B. Slinky plays with such precision expressionism when I was talking about “2020 Year,” but with almost the opposite effect here. This is the kind of song that’s brimming with confidence & insightfully inspired sound…raging against the dying of the light, ready to take on whatever might come next in this chapter of our humanity ahead. From the wild antics of the lead guitar, to the clever layers of rhythm guitar he’s added to support him along the way – “There Will Always Be A New Dawn” keeps the music movin’ at high speed, and keeps the sound coming at us in waves of sparkling ideas. Like…listen to how this track surges throughout the beginning, and the remarkable way it spreads out just after the three-minute mark – it’s brilliant! It also gives B. Slinky the opportunity to ramp things back up in the song’s structure and create a real dynamic finale to go along with it as well, which he certainly does. “There Will Always Be A New Dawn” is the kind of accessible instrumental cut that’ll keep everyone engaged.
I LOVED the fact that “My Heart Is Filled With Gratitude” immediately put out a totally different level of sweetness! I mean…it SHOULD, right? While instrumental artists obviously don’t use words to communicate like the rest of the music world does, the titles they choose are always key to having some kind of understanding of what they’re saying…and as a result, you see a name like “My Heart Is Filled With Gratitude,” and you instantly appreciate just how much JOY you hear in this tune. I could definitely see this as being a favorite for many listeners out there for sure…if you’re listening closely, what’s happening in the background from the rhythm section borrows a lot from tried, tested, and true songs throughout music’s history…allowing a lil’ something old to be brand-new again through the lively way that B. Slinky plays the rest on the surface with his stunningly expressive guitar work. Building on where the track before left off, the accessible sound at work on “My Heart Is Filled With Gratitude” reaches a completely all-star level here…to the point where I’d have to imagine most listeners out there will find this track to be one of the record’s most irresistible – I know that I did! I felt like B. Slinky found an extremely impressive way to take what’s fundamentally something along the lines of “Stand By Me” at the core of the rhythm underneath, or any ol’ song from the 50s really, and shine it up with such an incredible display of modern-day guitar work that no matter who you are, you’ll find something to love and admire about this particular track. I’d go as far as to say I’d be thinking about putting this song out there as a single if I was B. Slinky – “My Heart Is Filled With Gratitude” is that sincere and has that much appeal to it overall. Trying to battle against the natural beauty this song contains would be truly futile.
If you’re lookin’ for the real BARN BURNER though…it’s gonna be found at track seven, with “It’s Jake With Me.” Is that an expression I just don’t know about? Is “Jake” a verb I’m just unfamiliar with, or slang I’m unaware of? It very well could be folks…just because I type these words of mine out all day long about the music you’re all making certainly doesn’t mean that I know ALL of’em – and who knows – maybe B. Slinky just invented a clever title to provoke a lil’ discussion…it could be anything I suppose. All I know is that when you DO hear this man light up the fret boards and bring the intensity up, you can practically feel the HEAT straight outta your speakers to the point where it could warm your house in the wintertime. It’s 3:08 of fast-paced mayhem and non-stop awesomeness…and by the time you even blink, you’ll feel like you’ve already reached the end of “It’s Jake With Me” and rush to repeat the whole experience all over again to get another dose. For real – this track is an absolute riot to listen to from the lefts to the rights, and one of the most copious doses of pure nuclear energy in action on the entire album. Listen to spots like around the 1:30 mark on this track for example…the stop/start dynamics at work at their finest…and the way this man goes on to surge through the minute to follow is something to behold y’all! B. Slinky put a finale-style cut here at track seven…and it almost makes everything else that follows seem like he’s come back to do an encore for ya, you know what I mean? Tracks eight to ten on Light Over The City almost feel like he’s come back to play another bonus set for ya after this cut.
For myself personally, as much as I do love the intense side of guitar-based records and grew up on artists like Vai & Satriani & Johnson & more – for me, it’s always been about what these artists create in the quieter moments that seem to speak the loudest on behalf of what they’re capable of. There’s nowhere to hide in a song like “Prayer For Peace,” you know what I mean? We’re not sitting here, being rushed along with the intensity you’d find in a track like “It’s Jake With Me” beforehand – no…a track like “Prayer For Peace” makes use of pace, space, and atmosphere in a much more metered out way for our ears to absorb. Think of songs like…”For The Love Of God” by Steve Vai…or perhaps something like “Always With Me, Always With You” by Joe Satriani…stuff like that, or what you’ll hear on this track “Prayer For Peace” by B. Slinky…these are songs that know how to use every single moment along the way, whether it’s playing a note, or using the space surrounding them. Right from the very moments this track began though, I found the way that B. Slinky played this track to be just as fascinating as it was compelling…the man’s technique is on perfect display here, and the tones he’s getting out of his guitar are freakin’ revelations of textured notes that’ll practically reach right out of your speakers & touch ya.
Clever composition leads the way through “You Never Die” – and I gotta say, by this point in the record, way in deep at track nine, it’s been seriously impressive just how flawlessly this whole album has played. There’s so much skill abound on Light Over The City that any set of functional ears would hear it – for those out there that dig their instrumental/guitar-world tunes, there’s simply endless amounts of sound for you to enjoy…and for those of you that typically listen to other styles of music, I’d wager a bet that this particular record is that adventurous, stunning, and seamless that you might just find yourself hooked on a whole new genre and loading up playlists of songs you never thought you would before. Very much in that Satriani-esque style of explorative sound that never stops moving and finding new ways to thrill us in the process…there’s not a doubt in my mind that B. Slinky has created one of the year’s most exciting instrumental records with the material you’ll find on Light Over The City – there’s simply not a bad song on the entire album, and even way deep at track nine, the man’s still playing his songs like his very life depends on it. The passion is radiant, the desire to make music is clear as day, and the results speak volumes on his behalf…”You Never Die” is as interesting as it is entertaining, as skillful as it is accessible, and it’s another cohesive & outright essential song included in the lineup of cuts on this record. B. Slinky has pulled out all the stops in making Light Over The City, and confidently found a way to conquer this record track after track, putting his best on display without question every time. For us on the listening end, it simply doesn’t get any better than finding such a flawless lineup.
“The Skylark’s Last Song” reveals the multi-layered depths of B. Slinky’s music one last time as the end of Light Over The City begins to conclude. A highly expressive tune for less than two & a half minutes in total length…I really felt like this was the right fit for the final moments we hear…it’s a reminder of the talent we’ve witnessed along the way, yet also a subdued, smart, and subtle ending that eases us out of the experience, sending us back into the humdrum of our everyday lives. Theoretically at least – I’d imagine five minutes back at your desk, re-entering into the working world would be more than enough to send you screaming back to your safe place to push play & take a ride through this record from start to finish all over again if you’re able to take the day off! Words cannot properly express just how much I’ve enjoyed listening to this album – and heck, B. Slinky knows exactly what I mean – words couldn’t properly express how he feels about playing them either – I suppose that’s why he’s rockin’ this album instrumentally! Nothing short of pure sonic brilliance, played magnificently from start to finish with tremendous heart, passion, and thought throughout it…I’d be shocked to not find B. Slinky’s Light Over The City on a whole bunch of top-ten lists by the time this year is finishing up – this record is 100% aces.
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