Kyle Fosburgh - One Night

by David Bruggink Rating:9 Release Date:2015-07-22

Kyle Fosburgh has called Robbie Basho's Visions of the Country his "all-time favorite album from any artist," and if you've ever had the luck to hear that amazing record, it's an assessment that makes perfect sense. It's the kind of album that inspires people to start playing guitar, or pick their neglected guitar up again, to make an attempt at something that hints, even feebly, at the beauty of Basho's inimitable playing. 

Fosburgh is one artist in the American primitive guitar renaissance who was touched indelibly by Robbie Basho's music. Other guitarists have been vocal about Basho's influence - James Blackshaw's earlier records often recall Basho's roaming, ethereal quality of playing, and Steffen Basho-Junghans went so far as to prepend Basho's surname (itself borrowed from Japanese poet, Matsuo Bashō) to his own - but there is arguably no contemporary artist who is trying as concertedly as Kyle Fosburgh to continue Basho's legacy. 

Through his label, Grass-Tops Recording, Fosburgh is both re-releasing Basho's material (some of which, like Visions of the Country, had long been out of print) and releasing new music that embodies Basho's widescreen vision of the acoustic guitar's spiritual capacity. Still only in his mid-20s, One Night is Fosburgh's fifth full-length album, and his strongest so far, the moment where his desire to follow in the footsteps of Basho, his mentor in style and spirit, comes to glorious fruition. 

The album kicks off with 'Fruit of the Vine', the first of quite a few tracks here that are concise, graceful and bound to reemerge in your near future as you find yourself subconsciously humming their melodies. It begins humbly enough, but within only a few seconds starts to radiate Fosburgh's numerous gifts on display throughout One Night. His picking gallops along, alternating bass notes creating an insistent rhythm, while his voice, reedy and supple, dances with a gorgeous melody on the treble strings. 

'Big Star Falling' is another good example - a bluesy number that has Fosburgh's slide-guitar skills on display, still balanced, however, by his strong attention to melody and atmosphere. Then there's 'Into My Heart', perhaps a contender for the best song in Fosburgh's catalog, a soaring, mysterious love song which offers an incredible argument for the emotive ability of nothing but guitar and voice. 

Strong as these tracks are, One Night is also balanced by longer songs - in particular, a suite of three tracks, each over seven minutes, in the center of the album - which reflect the majesty of the night sky and the expanse of the romanticized American West depicted beautifully on the album cover. The stunning 'Sunrise Over the Andes' lets its opalescent chords reverberate, then evolves into wavelike strumming patterns that refract like morning beams of light on a mountain lake. In one of the album's most sublime moments, Fosburgh's singing settles into bright, impressionistic snatches of Glossolalia atop a meditative chord pattern.

There's much more to praise about One Night - the moving, mournful 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee', for example, is Fosburgh at his most lucid, its forceful strumming allowing him to experiment with his vocals, sending chills up one's back with his intonation. The album's only real misstep, I'd argue, is the inclusion of 'Venice Waltz', a beautiful song in its own right, but not one that matches the adventurousness of the other tracks.

By the album's end, you feel as though you've spent a night under the stars and open sky, pondering the wideness of both the cosmos and one's own heart - perhaps an embodiment of what Basho referred to as his interest in creating 'Zen-Buddhist-Cowboy-Songs' - and you've received a gift that only the best music is capable of imparting: a better glimpse of the beauty and complexity of this world. 

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