Todd Hallawell has received multiple awards as a guitarist through his career including the prestigious National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas. Todd’s exceptional musical range has become well known throughout the music world and his recordings and productions have been selected for both film and theatrical presentations. His three albums, Before My Time, From Nashville & Back and his latest project, Ear Candy, recorded with West Virginia flat-picker Robin Kessinger, have all won critical acclaim.
Hallawell is one of those musicians who feels at home with just about any style of music. This is primarily due to his broad musical exposure growing up, but also to the many hats he has worn during his musical career. Since receiving a performance degree on the classical guitar, he has worked as a music teacher, composer/arranger, recording engineer, music editor, producer, and record label owner. But it is his work with Fingerstyle Guitar that will always be remembered. Todd entertains audiences at concerts and festivals throughout the US and abroad and is a long time performer at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society (CAAS) in Nashville.
Some days start well. After a crashed computer, downloads that didn't (download), and deadlines that did (go dead) today started nicely with the music of Ear Candy finally arriving and sweetening up the summer morning with some beautiful stuff. Mind you, I had my doubts; I always have doubts about yet another steel-string guitar instrumental project, especially my own, as to whether it will have enough freshness, originality, virtuosity, dynamics, taste, and a little familiarity, to add up to something people will enjoy, return to, recommend, and also purchase. But happily with this project, the answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes again.
Todd and Robin are pals and collaborators who obviously have made it to the same page musically... they weave in and out of each others musical space with expertise and grace. The beautiful music they make has all the qualities I listed above. But in addition, the project itself hangs together: it starts nice and pretty and goes to great and powerful, and you want to go along with it. I especially liked Dizzy Fingers, Davey Jones, and Third Eyebrow, all hot with virtuosity and warped with beautiful irony. And then it takes you to sweet and melodic, but then moves to a surprise: an arrangement of Turkey Knob that you actually love, and you don't want to end.
Todd and Robin are, of course, well-known as award-winners and giants in the acoustic guitar world, but Todd the fingerpicking giant here has taken up the flatpick for this project, and he enters that extremely small world of artists who are great at both. And Robin here plays at the top of his monumental game, better than ever, full of power and authority and originality.
But the biggest feat of all, the one you chase for a lifetime, the most elusive goal, is to make a collection of recorded tunes that will last, because people will return to them with joy. When that happens, it's beautiful, as you are about to find out.
- Dan Crary
Label: Soundset Recordings Item Number: SR1027 Format: CD Year Recorded: 2009
Fingerstyle meets Flatpicking in this dazzling collection of instrumentals by two National Champion guitarists.