The music of 12-string guitarist James Blackshaw lends itself to lofty adjectives like intricate, stunning, delicate, beautiful, and the over-used amazing. Yet, with a new album, The Glass Bead Game, sharing its title with a Herman Hesse novel of the same name, perhaps its time to unpack a few more adjectives. Hesse’s writing in novels like Siddharta, Steppenwolf, and Demian often dealt with subjects like spirituality, self-discovery, and man’s own responsibility in the modern world. A similar sense inhibits “Cross.” It is meditative, spiritual and probing in tone, as the precise guitar picking of Blackshaw is paired with the angelic vocals of Lavinia Blackwall and a somber string section. With Blackshaw so meticulously weaving his melody out of 12-strings, it practically begs the question, can a man undergo a spiritual awakening in 8-and-a-half minutes? With the amazingly beautiful music of Blackshaw, it just may be possible.

MP3: James Blackshaw – Cross

The Glass Bead Game by James Blackshaw will be out next Tuesday, May 26th, on Young God Records.

James Blackshaw
Young God Records

photo by Fouad Bechwati