Cameron Knowler’s solo LP is imbued with a spirit of the American West. From cowboy songs and bluegrass blushes to Spanish plaza buskers, the record has a sepia soul that floats from Knowler’s fingertips. His last album proper was a collaboration with friend and tourmate Eli Winter, so this time he’s got a record that’s truly his own and he uses the opportunity to re-frame the current conversation of instrumental guitar. Too often lost in an imagined adherence to the Takoma school, there are plenty that bristle at the connection. Places of Consequence is a record that certainly shows no signs of reverence, carving out deeply furrowed pieces that spring forth from the ochre expanses and dried auburn plains of his youth.
What’s most striking about Knowler’s album is the quietness and reserve in his playing. While many guitarists seem set to prove that virtuosity is in the speed or intensity of strings, Knowler captures the weight of silence. His songs are patient, but paint with bright, textured strokes. A few notes from Knowler can tug at sorrow and solace that seems to have been welled up tight within. Like a lone horseman serenading the mists as he wanders far afield, Cameron finds the thread from Terry Allen to Loren Connors, capturing the West in bas relief and letting its heartbeat slow past a saunter. Like The Hired Hand soundtrack for a new age, the record works in long lingering stares. Paying more attention to the crumple of cigarette ash or the weathering of skin than to the action around it, Knowler has created an album that works as a magnifying glass of the soul. With each listen the cracks become clearer, but it strengthens the whole.
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