Album Review: Dan Padley — ‘Druthers’ (out Nov. 1)

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Dan Padley (a member of Laranja and Elizabeth Moen’s band) is releasing a new EP of ambient guitar improvisations Nov. 1 to benefit the Emma Goldman Clinic.

Padley is not wedded to a specific style of music. With Elizabeth Moen, he meshes with her rootsy singer-songwriter style; with Laranja, he explores modern jazz. On Druthers he probes the possibilities of ambient guitar improvisation. There are echoes of Pat Metheny’s more spaced-out work, but as on his recent album Perfectly Whelmed, he is doing his own hard-to-pin-down thing.

Jazz may be the anchor of his work, but on Druthers, Padley explores tonalities closer to American folk music, with a dash of Indian raga. He uses finger-picking on the title track, connecting him with folk primitivists like John Fahey, but the elegant, meditative dreaminess is all his own. “Stubs” has a naive clockwork ostinato that recalls Raymond Scott’s Soothing Sounds for Baby.

Druthers seems almost too short, but that’s Padley’s way; he gives the music all the time it needs to set the mood and get to the point, but no loitering. It’s a show-biz cliché to “always leave them wanting more,” but in Padley’s case, I could definitely go for more of this.

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