I've been trying to find time to listen to the new Akkerman CD and am slowly getting to know it. The first thing that strikes you about the album is the quality of the guitar sound. The high standard of the equipment, the way it is recorded and above all the skill of the guitarist himself combine to make it quite a striking thing. It is also good to have a real band playing real instruments. Akkerman has produced a lot of unreleased tracks using his computer to back him, there is something slighlty unsatisfying about it. No such danger here. Joy and The Arrogant Frogs feature smokey trumpeter Eric Vloeimanns.
I did see one review complaining about the way the guitar is recorded. I don't think this is a mistake but something deliberate. This is Jan Akkerman and Band not two or even four musicians collaborating. Much as we may long for the Focus days, they are pretty much gone (certainly as far as Akkerman is concerned).
Because it is an instrumental album and chiefly blues and jazz on a first listen I thought the tracks sounded quite similar to each other in some ways and nothing really moved me. I have learned, however, with Akkerman not to go on first impressions. Part of the problem, I'm sure, is that I listen to so much pop music that I'm quite lazy. A little more effort had me drawn first to the closing track Mena Muria and then Kharmah Chantallah, both possessing the sort of lyrical quality I like best in Akkerman. Next it was As Long as you're near and then the subtle Love Train, a simply amazing track that really does grow on you. I'm currently getting into Searching for Angela. The opener Free Wheeling does what it says on the tin and is excellent as is Minor Details. Joy threw me at first as I expected something different but that one is a grower too.
So even at this stage we can see we have an album well worth hearing, even if it takes a little while to appreciate.