Jacob Moon, eventide (Independent, 2005)

This new CD from Canadian guitarist-songwriter Jacob Moon is a leap forward for him in sonics and guitar textures. His last album was a live recording, but this one is more textured and finished. Anyone who appreciates guitar playing and good singing will find much to admire in these 10 songs.

Recorded at Catherine North Recording Studio in Hamilton, Ontario, eventide is one beautiful-sounding disc. It begins with a riff and some harmonics which quickly expand with Moon's clear and almost perfect tenor. Having recently seen him live, I can assure the reader that he is fully capable of playing the most complex guitar figures at the same time as singing with relaxed assurance. Moon plays Godin guitars, made in Québec by Canadian craftsmen, and he is another Canadian craftsman in his playing. I am not fond of comparisons, but he is master of his axe like Richard Thompson is master of his.

There are a half-dozen originals (two written with assistance) that deal with spiritual concerns and his concerns for humanity. "I've never been to see you / Or walked the dirty streets that you call home / Inside you must be lonely / For every strong survivor / How many more who fall and no one hears / But you have not been silent..." is from the lead-off track "Never Give Up On You." "OK On My Own" is about lost love: "I try to be okay on my own but I keep thinkin' of you." "Magnolia" (written with Glen Soderholm) is a paean to spring: "And the temperature will rise / And light will fill the skies / So you dazzle every eye / Magnolia" all fingerpicked guitar and cello. Then Peter Gabriel's "Come Back To Me" receives the Moon treatment -- lots of guitar with drums and percussion that add an African tone. His guitar solo seems heavily influenced by Daniel Lanois.

Moon's "Alone in New York" is a powerful personal memory of his last visit to the Big Apple. The other cover tunes come from Bob Dylan ("Ring Them Bells"), Roy Crain ("Jesus I'll Never Forget") and Emmylou Harris ("The Pearl"). All three are well chosen and wonderfully performed. In concert he performed much of this material solo using loops, but on record he has the luxury of other musicians who provide a depth of sound that he makes up for with virtuosity on stage.

eventide is a remarkably pure recording. Precise, even. And it demands to be played loud. Jacob Moon is ready to make that leap, from local hero to a broader fan base. You have an opportunity to get in on the ground floor. Visit his Web site and order one of these CDs. You'll be glad you did.

[David Kidney]