Review – Grant Ferguson – Windswept Isle

It’s electric…the way Grant Ferguson goes off on some new musical foray at the mere touch of a string. He doesn’t disappoint the demanding fan with his tricky licks, and never pushes away a newcomer with his harder edge, but rather pulls all listeners together on a common musical journey unlike any other in contemporary rock.

Propulsive, melodic rock guitar in the hands of Grant Ferguson is a powerful reminder of the instrument’s glory days. Influenced by some of the great axe masters: Jeff Beck, Gary Moore, David Gilmour and others, Ferguson is pushing his all-instrumental sound toward a new rock vision.

Born in Scotland, now based in Montana and Arizona, Grant is a breakout independent recording and touring artist who has released 3 albums, multiple singles and composed award-winning music for film and dance. 

‘Windswept Isle’ is Grant Ferguson’s sixth album. Over the years he’s matured as an artist, and grown more retrospective, even sentimental. While a good chunk of his writing has been about time (April Song, November, While the Sun Goes Down, December Sky, etc..) ‘Windswept Isle’ finds Grant focused afresh on the idea of place. Born in Scotland and an immigrant to the USA, Grant’s ties to his homeland are undeniable, both emotionally and musically. Perhaps as you listen to this collection of music you too will get a sense of the deep longing Grant carries in his soul – a yearning to connect with heritage, roots and place – the hauntingly beautiful windswept isles from whence he came.

I was introduced to Grant Ferguson and his sixth, and latest, release by his record company, Guitar One Records and, as is often the case with me, I was drawn in by the intriguing album cover. I’m also a big fan of instrumental melodic guitar albums so I was definitely going to have a listen, wasn’t I? And I certainly wasn’t let down, while ‘Windswept Isle’ can’t be called ground breaking, when the music and guitar playing are as good as they are on this superb release you really can’t go wrong!

There is a definite Celtic feel to the opening, and title, song Windswept Isle and it’s the only track with any vocals, a sweeping breathy Celtic harmony that imbues the track with an ethereal, otherworldly grace. To be fair, on this piece, Grant’s guitar is very much part of the storytelling and not hard-edged and in your face and it works perfectly. The next four songs see Grant come front and centre and certainly major on his highly impressive guitar playing and technique. Force Of Nature reminds me a bit of Gary Moore in his ‘Wild Frontier’ hard rock phase, a pounding, fast paced stomp across Grant’s windswept landscape with occasional pauses for breath, it’s excellent! Big Sky Road has that expansive feel to it, bringing to mind open spaces that stretch on forever, empty apart from the local wildlife and it really hits home in your heart, a properly emotive track.

Sunday Promenade takes a bluesy attitude to the music and a feel of Neal Schon’s superb ‘Beyond The Thunder’ in every relaxed and uber-cool note. There’s more of an urgency to Beyond The Veil, a Celtic undertone that wouldn’t be amiss on a Runrig release adding a huge amount of polish to Grant’s intricate guitar playing. An ultimately uplifting, powerful track that really resonated with me. Grant’s yearning for the land of his birth ultimately manifests itself in the endearing charms of album closer My Heart Is Not Here, the heartfelt fiddle playing that opens the track bleeds emotion and sincerity. It’s a wistful, nostalgic piece of music that sees this impressive musician laying his heart on his sleeve and ends the album on a heartfelt, passionate note.

‘Windswept Isle’ is an exquisite ode to the land of Grant Ferguson’s birth and a highly appealing collection of tracks full of charm and charisma and is an album that I feel I will be revisiting quite often.

Released August 25th, 2022.

Order the album here:

Grant Ferguson | Home | Guitar One Records

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