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Pat Metheny - Secret Story CD (album) cover

SECRET STORY

Pat Metheny

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.18 | 96 ratings

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Shakespeare
3 stars Riddled with ethnic, world, and eastern flavours, Secret Story is one of Pat Metheny's most diverse and varied albums. Ranging from classical pieces complemented by Metheny's majestic guitar work, to the basic "coffee house/lounge jazz", with only the dominance of the cosmic piano lacking (though its presence is still key), this is a very unique output. This is not Metheny's first time incorporating foreign sounds, instruments, arrangements, and/or compositional approaches into his music, but it is the first time that the ethnic spice has remained switched on throughout the entire album - and never has been so strongly switched on.

Crossing his signature jazz compositions and familiar guitar voices with a new, more emotional touch, this album is the first of Metheny's (including the revered Offramp) to make a special bond with the listener. During this album, and ever afterward, Metheny has mastered the art of creating music that means something, that moves and lingers with the listener. The orchestral touch helps acquire this level of sophistication, but in no way is it restricted to that side of the music. Rain River, for example, is a track that demonstrates Metheny's ability of soloing, and in doing so, creating a beautiful and captivating atmosphere. For people unfamiliar with much jazz, this may take many listens to fully understand and absorb, and may not be the best Metheny album to begin with. The catchy side to the album is restricted to Facing West, and the rest is not at all so. It is memorable, clinging, and magical - but not catchy.

Always and Forever is the first sign of a certain melancholic edge, and the songs slowly grow softer; more serene. There are a few detours on this road to depression, as the two proceeding songs return to a mildly upbeat feel, but Antonia begins to gets us back on track. The last three tracks are some of Metheny's strongest moments compositionally, and the emotional resonance it holds knows no bounds. The layered and morphing The Truth Will Always Be, the fragile and mournful Tell Her You Saw Me, and finally, the tear-jerking, throat-tightening, closure of the album, Our Final Hour. The final three grow more and more orchestral, the first having very little orchestra, the second being dominated by strings and Metheny's guitar, and the last being purely strings and brass.

When looking back over this album, it is very difficult to pick out a flaw, a moment where the music comes short. It holds variation, musical complexity, beautiful compositions, soulful playing, and is devoid of pretentiousness, useless intricacies, boringness, and mediocre musicianship. For any jazz fans, this is an absolute essential: and for those not yet jazz disciples, then this may not be the best place to start, but it is certainly something to pick up at some time.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |

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