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03/30/2017
Article
Guitarists Sarah Louise and Nathaniel Braddock Range Far Beyond the American Primitive Tradition

If you go by Sarah Louise’s two releases to date, she’s a splendid 12-string acoustic guitarist operating in the American Primitive tradition. She composed the tunes on the cassette Field Guide (Scissor Tails) and the LP VDSQ Solo Acoustic Vol. 12 (Vin du Select Qualitite) by devising new tunings whose unfamiliar resonances yielded jumping-off points for her instrumentals to change course every few measures, like a stream cutting through the Appalachian Mountains where she lives. But change isn’t just a compositional method; it’s built into her music. In the duo House and Land, she and fiddler Sally Anne Morgan use bracing vocal harmonies to explore a microtonal common ground between old-time ballads and hymns on the one hand and 20th-century minimalist compositions on the other. Louise won’t play any House and Land material in this solo setting, but she will sing the songs she’s been writing for her next album—and use an electric 12-string guitar to find new angles on some of the music from the aforementioned Vol. 12. Opening for Louise is guitarist Nathaniel Braddock, who lived in Chicago for more than a decade before relocating first to Melbourne, Australia, and then to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he now lives. Braddock has taught African, American, and English fingerstyle guitar, and he’s played indie rock, improvised music, and West African pop with the Ancient Greeks, Butcher Shop Quartet, Trio Mokili, and Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, respectively. The instrumentals on his new album, Quadrille & Collapse, integrate this myriad of styles into intricately constructed acoustic solos.