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Hale Souls

Hale Souls

July 27, 2011
4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

$8.99
 
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Product Details

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Wow!!! This is the first instrumental guitar album I've purchased in ages. Not because I'm "not a guitar nut"--I is!!! But, even to this day, so many guitar players dip their feet into "neo-Classical" land, get stuck there, and you end up with even more records with endless arpeggios, scalar "melodies" (*cough*), and "exercises" outlining rehashed baroque changes... Four-minute songs with three-minute guitar solos. BORING!

Well, I'm happy to say that GRETCHEN MENN'S debut solo disc, HALE SOULS, is the POLAR opposite of the generic instrumental records I just ragged upon. There's not a two-octave, neck pickup, sweep arpeggio to be found. No cheeseball "3rds" harmonizing... In fact, Gretchen's biggest influence appears to be STEVE MORSE--one of the most versatile pickers on the planet, and in my opinion, one of the most innovative "guitar music" composers, ever. GRETCHEN's music on HALE SOULS is actually a total breath of fresh air, to me. There are actual SONGS, with great parts, tones, grooves (the bouncy feel of "Oleo Strut"), chord and meter changes (check out "Déja Vu"), slamming energy (the hip, pounding metal of "Scrap Metal" and "Captured Barricade") and varied instrumentation (dueling acoustic guitars--with JUDE GOLD--on the KILLER "Fast Crowd," strings on "Walking Shadow," the clean electric/acoustic guitar splendor of the FRESH, Baroque-ish "Is It Not Strange," and other touches on certain songs). But a lot of it is slam-bam, tasty "power trio" material--again, not unlike the Steve Morse Band. This is a great, diverse debut disc!!!! You MUST earball!!

Gretchen may not have the "soloing" chops of modern greats like Guthrie or Greg Howe, Bumblefooot, or Buckethead.
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If you still believe that shred is not dead (like myself) , then you should enjoy this album. Gretchen Menn brings back the feel and sound of the old Shrapnel days of Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore but branches with a few more genres here. Beautiful guitar tones and excellent songwriting should appeal to most of the musician types out there (like myself) and this girl can rock !
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I really, really like "Hale Souls," and the more I've listened to it, the more it's grown on me. Snippets on iTunes don't do full justice in exposing you to just how interesting it is, especially considering the way the songs are constructed to unfold, so I suggest taking the plunge and getting the whole CD, or at least buying full tracks.

It would be easy to start barking up the wrong tree, if you only hear a few seconds of the first track, "Scrap Metal." It could easily fool you into thinking that this entire CD is going to smack you relentlessly with a big wall of overdriven guitar over driving bass and pounding drums. However, in those first few seconds, Gretchen Menn has merely lured you into what turns out to be a showcase of some very clever melodies (and catchy, at that). "Oleo Strut" and "Valentino's Victory Lap" also mix that hard edge with her compelling melodic and rhythmic structures that pop with some very tricky technique, showcasing finesse that keeps unfolding as the CD progresses.

This collection of songs boasts some fine musicianship from not only Menn, but others. Bassist extraordinaire Stu Hamm contributes not only spellbinding solos, but very solid support throughout most of the tracks (the solo on "Deja Vu" is especially beautiful). Jude Gold lends fun, intricate second acoustic guitar on "Fast Crowd," perfectly complementing Menn's composition as well as her deft picking. If this song doesn't bring a smile to your face, I'm not sure what would. Following that is an all-Gretchen Menn multiple guitar piece, "Is It Not Strange," where she provides her own captivating counterpoint and interwoven melodies.
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As a musician and a guitar player first and foremost, I am often seeking new music and artists such as Gretchen Menn, for inspiration! "Hale Souls" is an amazing compilation of guitar mastery with its ecclectic blend of songs and wide range of styles. Tunes like "Scrap Metal" and "Oleo Strut" are just dripping with attitude and absolutely dazzles the listener with Gretchen's fleet fretted passages! Then you have "Deja Vu" providing plenty of smooth, soul soothing tone. Meanwhile, other songs such as "Fast Crowd".. "Its Not Strange".. and "Fading" for example, contain plenty of acoustic and classical brilliance!

To sum it up, Gretchen Menn is an accomplished guitar player that has mastered many musical styles. Most importantly, she creates songs that are tastefully performed while paying careful attention to their arrangement. Without fail, "Hale Souls" will most certainly impress and entertain the most discerning of musical palates as Gretchen Menn continues to be an inspirational musician who is highly regarded as "a guitar player's, player"!
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I love this album for both the purity of the presentation, and the mastery displayed in that presentation. Rarely, these days, is a rock musician willing to put themselves out there, with no one else to lean on, and say, "Here's what I can do," and also pull it off in the performance. It's brave, and if you'll allow me the analogy, right up there with the Yo-Yo Ma's of the world, alone on the stage with only his cello. Alone is alone, no matter who you are. This album gives the listener a wide range of pieces, so there is something there for everyone to get excited about. Of the ten songs on the album there are at least five that I will play to death. Talent and Bravery - a rare find these days. Hats off to Gretchen Menn. Well done.
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