Perfect Imperfection Tom Carleno 2013 / Barking Cat Records 41 minutes
"Perfect Imperfection" is the debut solo album by guitarist/composer Tom Carleno, but this is hardly the beginning of his music career. Carleno has been performing with his acoustic jazz ensemble, Perpetual Motion, for more than twenty-five years and has recorded five albums with them. "Perfect Imperfection" is a real showcase for Carleno’s varied and passionate style of acoustic guitar playing and composing. A retrospective of eleven songs composed over the past twenty-five years and recorded over a four-year period, the pieces range from the serene “Meet Me in Maui” to covers of Al Stewart’s “On the Border” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” to “Child’s Play,” a spirited duet for guitar and spoons, and “Rhapsody in Blood,” Carleno’s homage to the horror films of the 1930’s and ’40’s - complete with sound effects! A master of his instrument, Carleno tells stories without words and paints vivid pictures without a canvas, sharing experiences and having fun in the process.
The album begins with “In Search Of,” a piece that Carleno says seemed to be trying to find its own way as he was writing it, sometimes going in different directions than he expected. Easy-going and relaxed, it’s a great opening. “Meet Me in Maui” is in memory of Carleno’s mother, who also loved to vacation in Maui. Very tranquil and calming, it feels like a warm breeze blowing over a peaceful ocean. Beautiful! “On the Border” is one of Al Stewart’s classic signature pieces. Originally released in 1976, Carleno’s cover version is a great tribute to the British rocker! The graceful “Timberline Tree” was inspired by a painting by Carleno’s mother, Joan Hagen Carleno. The piece is gorgeous, and a copy of the painting graces the back of the CD cover. I love “Child’s Play,” a playful and lighthearted duet for guitar and spoons (performed by Carleno’s wife, Josie Quick). “Rhapsody in Blood” is a trip! Inspired by the “spooky soundtracks” for early horror films, this 6 1/2-minute tour de force includes some great sound effects, many (all???) of which were created on the guitar - creaking doors, howling wolves, bone-chilling screams, thunder, and other sounds of dark foreboding. From there, we go to the gentle simplicity of Lennon’s classic “Imagine” - an exceptionally nice arrangement! “Brief Encounter” was Carleno’s first finger-style composition, written in 1985, and “What a Difference a Day Makes” is a lovely new piece composed specifically for this album.
"Perfect Imperfection" is a wonderful album that is excellent for focused listening as well as in the background. Well, “Rhapsody in Blood” isn’t too good as background music, but the rest of the tunes are! It will be available from www.tomcarleno.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Great stuff!