Shu Nakamura A Day Of Dreams

Shu Nakamura is a Japanese born guitarist who is these days ensconced in New York and is a member of Joe Cassady’s band The West End Sound. Blabber’n’Smoke really liked the album he released with Cassady under the name Joshua last year. That album was a dark and cantankerous collection of odd sounds and weird imagery, somewhat removed from Cassady’s regular beat poetry rock. Now Nakamura adds another string to his bow with this solo release. The eleven pieces have a lighter touch for the most part with acoustic guitar prominent and an intriguing mixture of Eastern and Western sounds reflecting his journey. The album is bookended by a pair of instrumentals which capture this mix. The opening East To West starts off with glass bells and oriental sounding stringed instruments before a fuzzy guitar refrain heralds the new world. By the end of the album on The Other Side of Memory Nakamura is firmly in America, the West to be precise. This is a brooding and dusty piece, an imagined soundtrack to a movie much like A Small Good Thing’s album Slim Westerns. Although the oriental feel remains this conjures up images of deserts, cacti and a shimmering heat, a great piece.
Throughout the album this continental divide is evident with Nakamura delivering the simple folk pop of Ima Koko Ni and the intricate guitar tapestry of Lion and Mary in Japanese. His guitar playing is a delight throughout, Mountain Dreams, another mystical reverie, features some fine acoustic picking as does the title track. The use of percussion in these tunes (and elsewhere) is superb with bells and wood blocks constantly adding another dimension. To cap all of this Nakamura delivers a killer in Train Song. With a percussive hammered sound reminiscent of Ry Cooder’s version of Jesus On The Mainline keeping the song on the tracks, slide guitar and a lush rhythm carry his laid-back vocal on this fine slice of gospel influenced Americana, it’s a truly beautiful delivery.
Overall this might not signal Nakamura as Japan’s version of Bert Jansch but listening to this one is reminded of some of Jansch’s work. Another comparison is with that of another New York guitar master, Gary Lucas whose eclectic approach is resembled here. A well crafted and at times scintillating listen.

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