Guitarists, be warned: Listening to Don Ross may make you chuck your instrument in despair. Like such axe-wielding wizards as Billy McLaughlin and Robert Fripp, Ross works the entire instrument, pulling off a full ensemble's worth of rhythm, bass, melody and harmony. Huron Street (Narada 70876-15300-2-5; 60:42) showcases the talent of this amazing U.S. fingerstyle champion in a series of genreless performances, incorporating elements of folk, blues, jazz and country into vivid musical pictures.
Ross knows how to build a mood-the flowing, twisting "Big Buck" brings to mind a winding river, while "Loaded, Leather, Moonroof," gains its road-trip intrigue from dynamics like brisk strums and percussive slaps and stops. A beautiful, anthemic romance emerges from the low register melody and harmonic hits of "Midnight March," while "Thin Air" resonates with Ross' brisk, dexterous hammers and pulls, creating a blissful, crystalline quality. Likewise "This Dragon Won't Sleep" offers a distinctive, adventurous feel in its spindly melody with dark underpinnings. Though he may frustrate aspiring guitarists with his head-spinning skill, Ross' expertly told tales should entrance a wide range of listeners.