Andrew Weathers: Littlefield
Littlefield, Andrew Weathers' latest release on Full Spectrum Records (more precisely on the sub-label Editions Littlefield), is a seven-song collection issued on cassette. The format chosen for the thirty-eight-minute release is wholly in keeping with the recording itself, given that Littlefield was recorded one evening onto four-track cassette after Weathers' day job had come to an end. While the production itself is bare-bones, the release is significant for being the first proper release by Weathers of solo guitar music, despite the fact that open-tuned fingerpicking has been a key aspect of the composer's output for many years.
Though he is accompanied by fellow guitarist Blaine Todd, Littlefield is a portrait of Weathers at his purest. Free of electronic processing and reverb treatments, the music ranges satisfyingly between uptempo pieces and meditative settings. An impression of place is sometimes suggested by the material; during “Salvation Mountain (For Leonard),” for example, the solo guitar playing is accompanied by a stream of hiss, though it's difficult to determine whether the sound is a distant river or simply tape hiss.
A high-spirited opener, “East Jesus” gallops at a fast clip, with the clarion call of its sunny lead melody standing out against a thick web of spiraling note clusters. Much slower by comparison, “Susquehanna River” stretches out languorously for eight minutes with peaceful strums draped across a shimmering swarm of drone textures. In its blend of fingerpicking and slide playing, “Black Mountain” adds a strong country-blues element to the recording, while “Freetown Christiania” documents Todd and Weathers indulging in some spirited, even fractured back-and-forth. “Seneca Village” brings the recording full circle in closing the release with a free-spirited jaunt that's irrepressibly sunny in disposition. Down-home in character and unassuming and laid-back in tone, Littlefield mightn't be an ambitious recording in the usual sense of the word, but its bluesy folk-ragas possess an undeniable charm, and on its own modest terms the release proves to be very satisfying.