California Sigh

DC 892LP DC 892LP

"Drag City presents the first ever vinyl pressing of guitarist Lee Underwood's under-sung 1988 acoustic guitar opus, California Sigh. Lee Underwood had been Tim Buckley's stalwart, inspiring, accompanying and being inspired by Buckley as they both navigated a heady set of changes in the late '60s and early '70s. Then, he abruptly stopped working as a professional musician, leaving behind a body of work, that, as noted by Eugene Chadbourne, was the work of 'a loner, who didn't quite march under any one flag, whose improvisations involved the level of sophisticated harmonic development one finds in jazz, floating as freely as Ornette Coleman.' 35 years later, yet still in time, train your ears on the meditations of California Sigh! As Byron Coley's liner notes observe: 'The music is guitar-based acoustic instrumental melodicism with a lovely tone and alternately ruminative and jazzy structuring. The playing is generally in the vein of William Ackerman and Alex de Grassi rather than progenitors like Basho and Fahey, although 'Lady of the Streams' does display a bit of a Fahey lilt at times. Throughout these pieces there are also flashes of single string runs straight out of the Django Reinhardt playbook. But the overall mood is tranquil -- reflecting the musical joys Underwood found when surrounded by nature.' The tenor of the production is transcendent to be sure. The playing of Chas Smith and Kevin Braheny Fortune, on pedal steel and soprano sax respectively, lend additional colors to Lee's music on several songs, but it is largely the soulful depth of Lee's guitar figures, limned by Steve Roach's synthesizers and the Roach/Underwood co-production, that give dynamic shape and elevation to Lee's lovely cycle of songs. And now, with this remastered vinyl edition, the air around the instruments -- both real and implied -- and the full sonic impact of California Sigh -- alternately gentle and mighty, like the natural world that inspired it -- is magnified incomparably. In the years following the release of California Sigh, Lee wrote and recorded two solo piano CDs, Phantom Light and Gathering Light. He continues to live in Northern California. California Sigh is 'dedicated with love and respect' by Lee to his late wife, Sonia Crespi, for the friendship and inspiration she brought."