Sarah Louise, 2016
Dabbling in folk traditions is a risky business. It's hard to add anything to such an established form without breaking it entirely. But, let's say you make an instrumental recording of folk guitar—odds are you'll be compared to John Fahey (and this, 15 years after his death). On her entry to the esteemed VSDQ Solo Acoustic series, Sarah Louise puts much of the cannon she inherited to great use, and (surprisingly) manages attain a unique voice within it. Fittingly, given this is the twelfth volume in the series, she exclusively uses a 12-string guitar. With custom tunings, her playing is at once objectively beautiful… but with slight shadows of dissonance giving it a more melancholy edge. Her phrasing is fluid, lending passages a feeling a lopsided weight and letting repeated bits each breathe with their own life.