When the beautiful and rich sound of a twelve-string is the first thing one hears, one knows that Sam Moss's Eight Constructions will be very much in the tradition of instrumental acoustic guitar-based recordings of the kind associated with James Blackshaw, Robbie Basho, and Jack Rose. And though the recording clocks in at a too-short half-hour, there's enough material on hand for one to recognize Moss as a player who doesn't sound out of place in the company of such renowned figures. Recorded over two days in December 2010 in a vacant apartment room in Boston, the album features six originals and two traditionals, with each track but one recorded solo without overdubs (the exception being “Empty Streets” featuring Jordan Fuller on saw).
It's certainly easy enough to hear where the first part of “Improvisation/The First Time I Heard Kensington Blues” ends and the second half begins. The lovely opening section entrances with a series of lulling twelve-string patterns that come at the listener in waves, until the tune shifts gears and a jaunty rhythm signals a plunge into the light-hearted yet nevertheless bluesy second half. Moss's bluesy side is also showcased during the traditional “John Henry,” which also allows his slide playing to come into the picture, and in “New Shellac Blues,” but the tracks that impress most are the twelve-string workouts (e.g., “No Harvest”), more because of the intricacy and fullness of the guitar sound than anything else. Moss's picking skills receive a good workout whether he's playing six-string, twelve-string, or banjo (as he does in “Interiors”), and the album also includes a brief foray into country and bluegrass (“Let Your Light Shine On Me”). While he appears on Tompkins Square's recent Imaginational Anthem IV: New Possibilities compilation and will also be heard on American Primitive Records' Primitive Guitar when it appears in early 2011, Eight Constructions, his fourth solo album since 2008, is certainly as good a place to start as any for those interested in hearing what he brings to the instrumental acoustic guitar genre.