Somewhere along the line, the guitar instrumental album became a hackneyed effort—at least as far as the electric guitar was concerned. In the 1980’s, a plethoric cavalcade of them were presented, and it seemed that most of them were hastily arranged vehicles meant to display otherworldly shops, hypersonic speed, and a chance to copy Yngwie (who copied Richie), and cite classical composers as the reason they play diminished sweep arpeggios.
Sure there was Steve Vai, but his electronic saturations and lack of bottom-end feel on the low notes can wear on a guy, no matter how good he is.
Vinnie Moore was the first one that ever showed me that it was possible to convey a joyful underpinning on the electric instrumental album without sacrificing the speed and/or conviction.
But somewhere along the line Lari Basilio came along and rearranged my entire paradigm. You don’t have to know her to know that joy is the bottom rung of her musical ladder. Yet she literately has everything a guitarist could ever want, speed, articulation, amazing rhythm skills, and even some highly-developed hybrid picking expressions that bring about a phrase unlike any other approach.
There is also no such thing as a superfluous note in her music. The Impelliteri school of “a million notes per second” was all the rage once. But imagine being able to peel forth with otherworldly skills, and land on a dime with near mathematic precision. That’s exactly what a musical bean-counter would surmise. And yet, the soul of her music in no way dies on the altar of precision.
Such is the case with her newest release, Your Love. The album opens up with “Fearless,” which sets a tone for the album, as she is the only one playing the opening expression. A straightforward song that builds underneath you as you listen to it. One minute you’re a spectator—the next you’re a passenger. It has timing changes and variance, but again the listener doesn’t feel the burden of the complexity—just the joy in what is being played so masterfully–and with ridiculous chops. Oh, and her writing ability is just stunning.
Brazilians. Not sure what’s in the water over there, but they crank out some crazy-gifted music-folk.
“Alive and Living” is the first song on the track that features legendary bassist, Leland Sklar, who, if it weren’t for his innate ability to work with anyone on the planet, would secondarily be hired just so his mosaic-grade-beard would appear in the video. The song has a digital delay-based riff that becomes an amazing takeoff for the general theme, as well as a firebrand guitar solo.
At the end of the day, the entire record is populated with solid, soul-soaring music. Basilio takes her Purple Ibanez LB1 Signature guitar and builds a slow, contemplative case for her joy in “All to You,” a structurally beautiful tune with delicate phrasing—no easy feat for many guitarists.
But it’s the “you” and “your” in her music that really creates the bedrock for her inspiration. She shies not away from her faith in God, which manifest itself so beautifully in the title track, “Your Love,” which has an intro any John Mayer fan would die for, yet goes so much deeper than anything in his catalog. The song is literally the oasis on the record, and one can feel the sense of a down shift—not so much in tempo, but in terms of life’s urgency.
Lari Basilio’s latest shows that its possible to provide echoes of Eddie, John, Vinnie and especially herself, but at day’s end, her playing will always point north, and that “Your Love” is what will be found if one decides to follow those arrows.
Lari’s website can be found here.