The first thing to catch the eye is the visual similarity between the covers of “Perfect Imperfection” and Ciro Hurtado’s recent release “Los Angeles Blues.” Then, upon listening, the parallels of artistic style between these two artists is suggested. Perhaps the two have never heard of each other, but this does not prevent them from inhabiting the same musical space. Both play acoustical fusion on the guitar, uniting folk, pop, rock, blues, and jazz motifs with the embedded melodies of Latin America. However, while I was prompted to reference Ciro, we will now discuss only Tom Carleno and his music.
The musician, who lives in Denver, has just now recorded his solo album, thirty years into his musical career. In this career he has collaborated with various artists and participated in the rather successful jazz group “Perpetual Motion.” He then played in different groups and in each of them Tom honed his mastery of execution, finding his style. He only recorded this album when, with the tips of his fingers on the thin strings, he discovered this style. The man appearing on the cover is mature, serious, and experienced; Carleno creates the same kind of music.
Carleno’s guitar improvisations embrace a large period of his life and help him to narrate many personal events and milestones. These stories, however, are interesting not just to those close to him but also to third-party listeners. This is by no means unimportant. The stories are varied. One track is dedicated to his mother and to that wonderful place where she was born, which the musician with especially sensitive intonations tells about in “Meet Me in Maui.” In “Working up an Appetite” he remembers childhood when he and his brother listened with delight to rock music and tells what came of that delight. The earliest of the written compositions, “Brief Encounter,” poignantly tells of first love and first breakup. The nostalgic notes of the album are expressed with two covers. In “On the Border” Tom reinterprets Al Stewart and in “Imagine,” well, you yourself know who originally sang that song, a singer with a great love of round glasses and world peace. “Rhapsody in Blood” sounds completely strange, but all is explained when we learn that the author of this track loves old horror movies. From these come the suspense, the blood-curdling scream, and the slightly displaced atmosphere.
Overall, “Perfect Imperfection” creates the feeling that you have come to visit a good friend, somewhere in the outskirts of a city where the gritty industrial zone is just transitioning into the warm countryside. You sit with him on the porch and by the quiet strumming of the guitar you listen to his stories and thumb through his albums with their yellowing photographs. This disk is valuable both for this special mood and also that in it a great personal and artistic experience has found its expression.
Sergey Oreshkin, Ascentor
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