Gretchen Menn - Hale Souls 2012

Gretchen Menn is rapidly gaining praise as new shred-lady. She is home base at San Francisco. Her virtuosity is a mix between rock and light jazz influence, can be heard in her debut instrumental album, Hale Souls. The official social network bio on Gretchen said she isn’t your average guitar hero on the rise, and how true is it. The music is actually mature and very Steve Morse influence.

The opening track that also shoot for YouTube video is Scrap Metal. In this opening, Gretchen try to steal listener's attention with catchy riff and dynamic arrangement. The solo parts maybe the simplest in the album. Mean for the next tracks, there are plenty of mind blowing shreds. Listen to the second composition Oleo Strut one will think that this is Steve Morse stuff. The chromatic licks is very Morse-sian. Even the running bass by Stu Hamm is almost identically to what Dave LaRue done. Déjà vu coming up next, is melodious mid tempo song, the combination of overdrive and clean guitar tone is what made the song. We are once again witness Gretchen versatility on fret board in Valentino’s Victory Lap, most of it Steve Morse inspired licks and with a bite of Ritchie Blackmore Rainbow’s riff. Fast Crowd is amazing acoustic guitar show, the strumming groove is fresh. Is It Not Strange bring the mood to melancholy. This is a gutar duet composition. Next is the ‘80s Shrapnel era mood, as set in the song Captured Barricade. A rather dissonance composition for Struck Sleepless, going to the direction of Frank Zappa-ish. The album close with duet of tapping guitar with violin in Fading. Talking about violin, of course this is after Walking Shadow, a solo violin that interrupt all the distortion in track eight.

So, here we got a new breed of Steve Morse’s variation, that still contains a lot original idea by the artist. Gretchen surely bring a new unique sounds with her improvisation. Song writing is creative, and first time listener is likely to lure into her composition that are very captivating. Her style is soft with lot of jazz phrases bring along, this is not your typical pentatonic shred. Being a female guitarist with such extra ordinary talent, surely a bright future and interesting personality to followed by each guitar fans.

Metalharem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Gretchen Menn - Hale Souls 2012

1. Scrap Metal
2. Oleo Strut
3. Déjà vu
4. Valentino’s Victory Lap
5. Fast Crowd
6. Is It Not Strange
7. Captured Barricade
8. Walking Shadow
9. Struck Sleepless
10. Fading

Gretchen Menn – guitar
Stu Hamm – bass
John Mader – drums
Emily Palen – violin
Guest artists:
Angeline Saris – bass on “Scrap Metal”
Jude Gold – second acoustic guitar on “Fast Crowd”
Kirsten Menn – vocals on “Fading”

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