Ewen Carruthers – One Red Shoe – Ewen Carruthers: vocals, guitar/ Ian Melrose: guitars, shakuhachi/ Lea Morris: harmony vocals/ Martin Hutch: dobro, sitar guitar/ Lutz Moller: piano/ Hans-Jorg Maucksch: fretless bass/ Beo Brockhausen: hulusi – Stockfisch Records Stereo-only SACD SFR 357.4048.2, 47:00 ****:
Ewen Carruthers is an expatriate Northumbrian who’s been living in California for a few years now. He’s an excellent storyteller and superb musician as well – there’s some pretty intricate finger-picking going on throughout many of his songs. A couple of surgeries on his hand seem to have had minimal impact on his playing ability, and haven’t seemed to slow down his touring schedule either. He’s also a pretty talented visual artist, and his pencil and oil pastel drawings grace the pages in accompaniment of most of the song lyrics throughout the excellent liner notes.
All of the songs here are brilliantly realized. The title track, “One Red Shoe,” an homage to the victims of 911, opens with a brief piano intro that paints a remarkably vivid sonic illusion of the recorded acoustic; the song is nothing short of absolute ear candy. “Just Passing Through” documents a road trip across the western United States that Ewen took with his son, David, and how the misnomers of place names along the way were only minor distractions from the quality family time the trip presented. “A Springtime Story” offers a glimpse of Ewen Carruthers’ small paradise surrounding his California home and includes some of the most delicately beautiful playing on the entire album. “Mr. Anderson” is a poignant imagining based on Ewen’s poor command of the German language, brought on by a request from producer Gunther Pauler for German-language translations of his songs.
The recording is little short of magnificent; Gunther Pauler has done another exceptional job with this stereo-only SACD, and it seems that Stockfisch has re-embraced the format that brought them so much early acclaim. On their recent batch of releases, they’ve gone back to stereo-only SACDs after some experimentation with multichannel surround, but trust me – these discs are so acoustically superb with nearly holographic imaging, that few – if any – would miss the surround layer at all. I did almost all of my listening via the higher-resolution SACD layer, although the Redbook CD layer sound was easily reference quality as well. I don’t think anyone out there who’s still in the SACD game is producing discs that can hold a candle to the fidelity of these acoustic offerings from Stockfisch – they’re incredible documents of remarkably talented performers. Very highly recommended!
TrackList: Mr. Anderson; Hey Katrina; Lonely Little White Cloud; Long Distance; Chinese Girl; That Train; One Red Shoe; Information Getting Lost; A Springtime Story; The Railroad And The Plow; Lovebirds; Just Passing Through.
— Tom Gibbs