Blue Canoe, 2021
There isn’t much that Lyle Workman hasn’t done in his lengthy and accomplished career, but here’s a first for the guitar virtuoso- an instrumental album backed by a 63 piece orchestra captured live at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Workman leads with the percussively fluent and incredible guitar work of “North Star”, which also recruits Charlie Bishart’s soaring violin on the adventurous blues opener, and “All The Colors Of The World” follows with a calmer presence where Tim Lefebvre’s agile bass work complements the elegant beauty of the cinematic landscape.
As we approach the middle, “Arc Of Life” gets dreamy while being anchored by Toss Panos’ drums, though “Imaginary World” finds a more forceful place to reside where Ron Dziubla’s tenor sax skills shine amid Jame Hovorka’s trumpet, and, of course, Workman’s guitar acrobatics. “Labyrinth Of Love”, a particularly romantic track, then makes the most of a soft climate where an orchestral arrangement accents the meticulous six string.
“Rise And Shine” and “Our Friendship” bookend the listen, as the former benefits from Greg Leisz’s pedal steel and the setting builds into a dizzying display of bluesy song craft, and the latter exits on a slow burner of strings and guitar working together with sublime beauty.
An artist who has recorded with Beck and Sting, among others, and who has helped soundtrack box office hits like Superbad and The 40 Year Old Virgin, we’ve all heard Workman’s work in some capacity, and here he’s as luminous as ever, while pulling prog-rock, jazz and classical ideas into his commanding formula.