What makes a recording of traditional hymns stand out? First it draws you in with a mixture of music genres gently melted together to create a soulful earthy sound. Then it takes you on a journey, one filled with ramshackle old barns, split rail fences, and glimpses of simpler times. These elements have graced the music of Rustic Spirit, the new recording from guitarist Steve Cunningham. Rustic Spirit is a roots-based instrumental approach with blues, gospel, and jazz inflections added in. The music of Rustic Spirit blends the melodic simplicity of hymns with a deep improvisational vibe that is sure to please. Cunningham's proficiency and technical mastery of various guitars along with his instinctive musical and rhythmic approach combine to create a voice all his own. This combination of skill and sound is what makes Rustic Spirit stand apart from the rest.
Rustic Spirit kicks off with a warm and rich rendition of "Amazing Grace" that will call you home. "There Is A Fountain" shows off the warm earthy tones of the slide guitar while evoking imagery of front porches and glasses of sweet tea. Cunningham takes you to church with his call to worship "Nothing But The Blood", it will have you weaving through the pews. "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Somebody's Knocking At Your Door" let the lap steel sing with a pure sweet melismatic soul. "Doxology", with it's refreshing jazz-tinged reharmonization, and funky acoustic groove, will have you humming along. "Lord, I Want To Be A Christian" soothes you with it's intimacy and warmth and "Nearer My God To Thee" does just that. Winding down with "Blessed Assurance" brings your journey full circle and with Cunningham's soulful playing on the slide guitar, you can now lay down your head and peacefully rest.
"For this recording I wanted to create a vibe where there was definitely great playing going on, but also a sense of depth and mystery" states Cunningham. "Some of my favorite albums by cats like Thelonious Monk, Kelly Joe Phelps, and Ry Cooder have this sense of something hidden underneath the notes, something greater than the sum of the individual parts. I felt the slide guitar captures this along with the the warmth and intimacy of these old hymns while still leaving room for the depth and expressiveness of the Spirit"