Guitarist Ulrich Ellison's woodshedded in his Austria, got a master's in music at UT, played sessions for Abra Moore and Nakia, and tours Europe regularly. As a result, Synergy is a well-crafted and polished collection of tunes. His melodies flow smoothly and the songs stand for more than just excuses to solo; his voice sounds strong and his picking in control. Yet polish and craft get you only so far. "Leaves Keep Falling," "Don't Be a Fool," and "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You" are all executed flawlessly, but they and every other track sound carefully and deliberately constrained by the borders of triple-A radio's version of classic rock. Middle Eastern flavors at the beginning of "Memories of You" take all the chances with which the guitarist is apparently comfortable. Ellison's got undeniable talent, but skill needs spark for both to mean more than slick product.
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