Danny Paul Grody: In Search of Light LP

“In Search of Light” is the full-length follow-up to the well-received “Fountain” (Root Strata, 2010 - one of my top albums of 2010 -Jeremy), Danny Paul Grody’s debut solo release. Many listeners no doubt recognize Grody from his work in San Francisco-based groups Tarentel and The Drift. As a solo artist, he produces wistful, poignant music culled principally from acoustic guitar and synthesizer. Grody’s work recalls aspects of the post-Takoma school in that fingerpicked, cyclical melodies make up the crux of many of his recordings. However, he also masterfully avoids the pitfalls of the genre, invariably favoring concision, lyricism and ideas over dexterity and flare. In listening to “In Search of Light,” one can’t help but imagine these recordings appearing on some lost private issue California folk LP from the late 70s- such is the timelessness of Grody’s aesthetic. “Hello from Everywhere” opens the album and is an ideal point of entry, as a loping guitar figure slowly blooms alongside delicately rising pads. On “Orbits,” Grody develops a beautiful and intricate theme built around warm, chiming guitar constructions and slow-burning synth clouds. It’s on tracks such as this where his seemingly disparate influences coalesce into something remarkable. His guitar passages recall more the sublime kora playing of Toumani Diabate than Fahey or Kottke or any of their acolytes. His phrasings are precise, exquisitely conceived and never sacrifice pathos for bombast. “Stars Gaze” further demonstrates the broadness of Grody’s scope, as warbling, hazy synth tones slowly engulf his wraith-like guitar. The aptly titled “Unwinder” closes the album, and finds Grody at his most sparse, letting phrases and plucks from his six-string resonate and dissolve into the air.

As an album, “In Search of Light” is an assured and beautiful statement, an aural tracking shot of the California coast that feels as old and familiar as the sun. Artwork by Billy Joe Miller. Mastered by James Plotkin. LP in edition of 500 with digital download.

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