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Brian Tarquin: Soft Touch

A doodling, fluid-lined guitarist in the mold of Lee Ritenour, Brian Tarquin sweeps through his melodies in effortless strokes. Soft Touch (Instinct INS416-2; 45:08) is an apt description of that sweet, appealing style, which is unfortunately for the most part buried here in slick, glossy layers of synthesizers. Strikingly similar bell-sweeps ornament songs like “Catalina Breeze,” and a greased cover of the ’70s pop chestnut “Baby Come Back,” blanding out the upbeat, hooky melodies to simple genre tunes. Despite the extra gloss, “Baby Come Back” feels hollow without the captivating harmonies of the original. Tarquin’s fluid licks are not served well by overbearing drum programming and keyboards on “Sedona,” nor by the typical slowburning R&B groove “Rainfall.” The guitarist does cut through the fluff a bit on “Jive Town,” setting his sweet lines smartly off against knuckling percussion, and throwing a few rocking stingers in for good measure. Cliff Lyons’ muscular sax also sets up well here, providing a nice change of pace.

Originally Published