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Ralph Towner: Time Line

From the first luminous minutes of Ralph Towner’s new solo guitar album, Time Line, it’s clear that we’re in good hands and on a musical journey that’s by turns pensive and wise, atmospheric and focused. Between the opening track, “The Pendant,” and an unusually introspective, Euro-flavored 12-string version of the Gershwin standard “My Man’s Gone Now,” veteran unplugged-guitar hero Towner shows he’s very much in creative and technical command.

On this, his fourth solo project for ECM in 20 years, Towner covers a gamut of moods and colors, from the tart, post-Villa Lobos angularity of “The Hollows” to the bright-toned optimism of “If,” and the emotionally mercurial micro-suite “Five Glimpses”-the album’s centerpiece, despite its pocket-sized scale. Towner mostly sticks to classical nylon-string guitar here, though he dips into the ringing tones of his 12-string on “Freeze Frame.”

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