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Michael Hedges: Torched (CD, 62:29);
Windham Hill Records, 01934-11394-2 1999
Cyberhome: http://www.nomadland.com and
Of all of Michael�s fine releases this one, Torched, reaches me in the deepest recesses of
my being. I must confess I have sang along, tears in my eyes, sensing the deep loss of Michael
now being gone, tragically killed in late 1997 in a car accident. What waste, what loss, and so
final. But Hedges� voice and soul lives on in this last release, nearly ready to be finally �polished�
yet too late -- it is released anyway, with raw edges, with Hedges as is -- a superb diamond in the
Title cut, �Torched�, opens with acoustic guitar super-structure and Hedges welding a torch
of electric guitar lead and soulful embellishings. This is an excellent effect like that of his
Watching My Life Go By release. Melody vocals and dubbed in harmony voice also by
Hedges is very strong. This is introspective folk rock at its best. Hedges even uses a lowered
octave vox, (by synth?) to get a wonderfully deep, basso profundo, on the word
�torched�. This deep bass vox reappears on �Promised Land�. Very effective technique! Love it.
Hedges weaves in poignant electric guitar leads on super sustain. Sweet. This song�s lyrics just
begin to illuminate a certain mood, sensitive to spirit, pervasive in many songs on Torched.
With allusions rampant to rebirth, deliverance, release, and going on beyond the here and now. It
is eerie to see how Hedges was delving into a mood of deeper awareness, searching, seeking and
then swiftly -- comes his end. It was if the �other side� was inspiring him, preparing him for a
journey in these songs.
Whether it is David Crosby and Graham Nash coming in after Hedges� death to record tracks
on �Spring Buds� or the incredibly intense and powerful song about the Exodus of the Hebrews
on �Promised Land� -- you are immersed in a deeply moving musical experience. Never mind all
the great singing and guitar playing, this release is flooded with soul and intensity. It�s music
that goes beyond the speakers, it�s music that lifts the listener above the clouds. Listen to the
lyrics of �Phoenix Fire� and on �Gospel of Mary/The Holy Flame� and you will sense a call to
�rise above� to �break free� and be transformed. �Gospel of Mary . . .� sees a return to electric
solos and melodic fills.
Several instrumental-only tracks are featured with signature Hedges acoustic expertise.
�Fusion of the Five Elements� even has an America feel to it. Michael does it all, playing all
tracks. Steve Tibbetts fans will enjoy these moments of guitar. �Dream Beach�, �Arrowhead�,
(sounding Jethro Tullish), and �Ursa Major�, (very dreamy, ethereal piece), and �Java Man� are
all fine instrumentals. �Java Man� essentially wraps the studio things up as Hedges might have
planned in this release but an extra live track is added in as a Coda in memory of one fine
musician. Michael Manring plays bass on this live cut.
Hedges fans, you need this one. Those of you unfamiliar with the magic of Michael Hedges
can very comfortably start with this release. Highest recommendations. ~ John W. Patterson
Fusion of the Five Elements,
Shell Shock Venus,
Free Swinging Soul,
Rough Wind in Oklahoma,
Gospel of Mary/The Holy Flame,
Coda: Free Swinging Soul (live 1994 concert)
Michael Hedges - guitars, voice, effects, flutes, etc.,
David Crosby and Graham Nash - voices on "Spring Buds",
Michael Manring - bass on live track
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