The Golden Arm Trio Why the Sea Is Salt (Loveletter/Shamrock)
Why the Sea Is Salt (Loveletter/Shamrock)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Feb. 11, 2000
The Golden Arm Trio
Why the Sea Is Salt (Loveletter/Shamrock)The second album from the Golden Arm Trio finds sole constant member Graham Reynolds expanding his already formidable stylistic range to new eclectic heights while retaining his ear for strong, memorable melodies. Reynolds is often pigeonholed as a jazz artist merely for lack of a more appropriate term, but his classical compositions for the Tosca String Quartet belie such a designation once and for all. Ironically, the most poignant and beautiful string composition on the album, "The Old Woodcutter," was originally written for two saxophones and drums. This sad and lonely lullaby is presented with living-room intimacy, and it will put a lump in the throat of anyone with a pulse. The album's two main themes, "The Ship" and "The Ship at the Bottom of the Sea," also resonate with uncommon emotive richness. Reynolds juxtaposes the string compositions with everything from a klezmer/exotica hybrid ("Finster Crowley") to a Hammond organ-infused rock instrumental with violin in place of guitar ("Swift Ship Sailing"). This approach showcases the album's diversity, but frequent melodic reprisals unify the album as a more cohesive statement than the Trio's self-titled 1998 debut. If that weren't enough, Reynolds' exquisitely furrowed performances on both piano and percussion continue to be just as awe-inspiring as his compositions. Is there anything this man can't do?