Tommy West is an artist/composer/producer operating out of Nashville, TN. His style reflects 70s rock sensibilities; layers of acoustic guitars, odd tunings, familiar- yet-fresh and melodic guitar playing splashed against driving rhythms. His musical sensibilities flow from a spirit of compassion, humility, harmony, and unity resulting in a tall drink of water for a divided and burning world
For his latest album “Frequencies of the Sun”, Tommy brought in a number of talented musicians to bring depth and life to the experience, including Jeremy Warren (drums), Chris DeRosa (drums), Don Barrett (bass), and Dave LaGrande (keys).
“Frequencies of the Sun”, drips with crackling guitars, both electric and acoustic. If guitars died and went to heaven, this is what heaven would sound like. Tommy West is on fire, effortlessly weaving incredible, sparkling solos and melody lines in and out of the 11 tracks which make up the album.
Tommy has a unique approach to playing, and he seems less focused on the commercial aspects, and more on the ‘playing’. The harmonic structure of his composing is sophisticated, while his soloing leverages a rare sense of melody and phrasing. Yet at the same time his music does not lose that raw and rugged, muddy rock n’ roll sound. Tommy’s ‘virtuoso’ playing is not to be confused with guitar prodigies like Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen, brilliant as they may be. The difference can be explained in two simple words – aesthetics and soul. Tommy West belongs to the latter.
Tommy can create incredible, complex, beautiful lines that extend endlessly without repeating. Not the old `guitar licks’ dribbling out, but substantial musical phrases that don’t sound mechanized but almost improvised on the spot. The type of thing you’d hear at a live concert, where the guitar player performs without the ‘cold’ constraint of the usual ‘studio’ limits.
The production and musicianship is incredible all-round on“Frequencies of the Sun”, and Tommy plays at the highest level. But just how and where does Tommy West convince me of his superior quality as a guitar player! Well, in the notes he does not play! And if you’re taken aback by this statement don’t be.
I have been studying and playing this instrument for well over twenty years now. The guitar is no longer an instrument to me – but a shrine! From coast to coast across every ocean, you will find a universe filled with guitarists who will technically blow your mind with the notes they play; each one bigger, better and faster than the one before. Just checkout Youtube and you’ll see my point
However I’ve come to appreciate guitarists for the notes they don’t play, the spaces and silences that add atmosphere, ambience and anticipation, before the next note is executed. This is what makes a good guitarist great in my book. The rule is…never, ever overplay!
Tommy West has this ‘unofficial rule’ automatically built-in into his playing. His guitar impresses without suppressing the music which is the backdrop to his prowess! As a musician I am going to steal, borrow and be inspired by it, which is probably the highest compliment I could give Tommy’s music.
The standout tracks? Well I could close my eyes and put my finger on any track and hit the nail right on the head! But to be honest a couple of tracks actually did inspire my curiosity above the norm for different reasons. Obviously the title track “Frequencies of the Sun”, then “Pyre of the Pale Horse”, “Torn”, “Big Green Universe”, “Traces of Forever”, Under the Dreaming Tree” and “Incantevole Magia della Fia”.
After listening to Tommy West throughout this album a few times, I was not surprised to already have memorized the signature tone and phrasing characteristic to his playing. Tommy’s integration of scale harmonizing puts the listener in a varied and particular mood, and takes them on a different journey on each subsequent track.
Even If you only partly enjoy the guitar as a lead instrument, give “Frequencies of the Sun” a listen and you won’t be disappointed!