Jim Ghedi: Home is Where I Exist, Now to Live and Die
Judging by the fifty minutes of material presented on Home is Where I Exist, Now to Live and Die, solo finger-style guitarist Jim Ghedi certainly merits a place alongside other members of the finger-picking fraternity. The album didn't arrive overnight, however; instead, it developed over a period of time that saw Ghedi living in Brussels and then returning to his Sheffield home base to reconnect. The sense of dislocation in this case was intensified by the fact that his Belgium stay was largely rootless; with nothing more than a friend's room his home-away-from-home, Ghedi spent his time writing music, delving into the city's library archives, playing in the streets, and exploring the country. Deprived of such background, one might interpret the album title to be an expression of despair; cognizant of the circumstances leading up to the recording, one instead interprets it as an allusion to a state of hard-fought resolution reached at the end of one's travels.
Ghedi wastes no time establishing the Belgium connection, opening the fifty-minute album as he does with “Bienvenue à Bruxelles, le métro ligne 3 & 4,” a field recordings-based street-level sound portrait of the city that admittedly could've been omitted, even if it does provide an atmospheric entry-point. What we're really interested in here is guitar playing, and there's plenty of that in what follows. Cases in point, intricate arrangements built from strums and picking lend strong appeal to energized set-pieces such as “Saint Gilles” and “An Ode for Ric Booth.”
If there's one thing that separates him from others in the finger-picking group, it's a predilection for multi-tracking. In that regard, it's not uncommon for Ghedi to weave multiple layers of guitars into a given track, and his pieces aren't one-dimensional in mood or style either, as modifications in tempo and dynamics often occur numerous times within a single track. Illustrative of the latter, “Journey to Maastricht” advances through multiple episodes during its eight-minute run without ever losing the Eastern European folk spirit that so evocatively infuses it, while “Seven Oaks (Gwyn's Song)” shows that Ghedi's eminently capable of entrancing the listener with pastoral romanticism and country-tinged picking when the urge hits. One comes away from Home is Where I Exist, Now to Live and Die impressed by its range, the breadth of which implies that Ghedi has benefited artistically from his travels. No music is created in a vacuum, his no exception, and the album material intimates an enthusiastic receptivity on its creator's part to the influence of other musical cultures.