There was a lot to like about Modern Times, classical guitarist Marc Antoine’s 2005 CD. Helmed by a DJ and remix master, it threw out electronica grooves, sound samples and plenty of steel-string and even electric guitar solos. It was a natural progression for an instrumental artist, and many applauded Antoine’s attempts. His longtime fans might not have been among them, though, especially those accustomed to the Spaniard’s flamenco leanings and expert nylon-string fingerpicking.
Fans can rest easy with Hi-Lo Split, as Antoine returns to his snappy, acoustic pop-jazz sound. The music comes closest in style to his early works, Classical Soul and Urban Gypsy, than to the later CDs that made him a smooth-jazz-radio darling. Top to bottom, this is a return to Antoine’s strengths as a musician. Right off the bat, “For a Smile” and the title tune are sure to be smooth hits, perfect radio ditties for a long summer.
A cover of “Spooky” is probably superfluous, but Antoine trades repeated chorus riffs for some serious playing on a few tracks, including “Silk and Steel” and “Cancun Blue,” the latter something you can picture in your mind by imagining a seaside cantina. A trip to bossa land with “Bossalectro” may seem too safe a call, but Antoine plays so effortlessly and with such a sense of style that you wonder what a full CD of original bossa-nova songs mixed with a few classics would sound like.