Every so often an album comes along with a truly original sound. Seven Years Late by 20-year old Texan guitar prodigy Hayden Pedigo is one of those albums. Raised in the Texan pan-handle by his Baptist preacher father, Pedigo’s music is rooted in the American finger picking guitar tradition of John Fahey and Robbie Basho. However, Pedigo’s influences extend beyond the traditional American music and combine with a passion for krautrock and avant-garde musicians such as Fred Frith and Charles Hayward. These influences combined to great effect on Pedigo’s previous album, which included collaborations with Hayward, Frith and Kawabata Makato from Acid Mothers Temple. Seven Years Late sees Pedigo return to his acoustic roots, though with the influence of these collaborations having had a clear impact on his style. The result is intriguing, and is strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in either Americana or avant garde guitar.
The songs on the album can be roughly placed into three groups. The first are more traditional Americana played in Pedigos’ unique style. The ethereal opener, Building The Church of The Lost, for example, sees Pedigo’s picked acoustic guitar rise and fall in a melancholy way that conjures up images of a train making its way across an open prairie.
Similarly, the album’s title track Seven Years Late is a gently plucked piece that draws heavily on Pedigo’s love of Fahey and Basho. Mars Curiosity starts off in a similar vein before developing into a more energetic, driving section that gives more than a passing nod to the energetic banjo style of Doc Watson.
The second group of songs are more original and experimental, inspired perhaps by Pedigo’s collaborations with Fred Frith. Small World features a gently droning guitar accompanied by what sounds like bird song and the occasional segment of steel guitar in the background.
I Won’t Go Any Further involves a low drone with occasional distorted interludes giving the impression of an apocalyptic plague of insects descending on a dusty, desert plain.
The most interesting songs, though, are those that blend Pedigo’s American roots with his more recent experimental approach.
The Dream sees Pedigo transfer his unique style to the steel guitar to beautiful, psychedelic effect. The song is based around a repeated riff that continually promises to break into a straightforward melody before eventually disintegrating. The result is a curious, shimmering marvel.
The combination of Pedigo’s influences is most evident on Dreaming of Nothing. This opens with a wistful, repetitive steel guitar phrase over a distorted guitar solo. The guitar slowly withdraws halfway through to emphasize the beauty of the repeated phrase before returning for the song’s final section.
If there is one small criticism to be made of this album it is that Choices That I’ve Made doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the album. Pedigo’s lyrics and vocals are not as strong as his guitar playing. Moreover, the song’s inclusion mid way through the album strikes a slightly odd note as it detracts from the dream like quality built up by the other, instrumental songs on the album.
Review by: Alfred Archer
Released originally as a cassette release on Austin based d.i.y experimental record label Marmara Records, available via Bandcamp here.
Hayden Pedigo also compiled the latest release in the ‘Imaginational Anthem′ series on Tompkins Square, read our recent post here.