"Lord, I Turn To You" - Album Review by Matthew Warnock

One of the hardest ensembles for a guitarist to play in is a vocal-guitar duo.  The sonic possibilities seem to be endless, but most players get stuck falling back on strumming chords or plucking arpeggios, as these approaches fill in the space with the most harmonic saturation.  But, when done right, the vocal-guitar duo can offer myriad possibilities to explore different timbres, harmonic accompaniment and musical interaction between the guitarist and the vocalist.  Australian based duo Lee & Sig take just such an approach on their album Lord I Turn to You, which features 10 exciting and highly engaging vocal-guitar duos that draw from a variety of influences and styles along the way. 

Guitarist Lee Evangelista takes a varied approach to his accompaniment throughout the record.  On songs such as “You Have Sent Your Holy Spirit,” Lee brings in a jazz influence to the harmony during the intro, which leads in an ascending diminished chord run, climaxing on a flurry of harmonics.  As the vocals enter, Lee digs into a strong chordal groove, choosing not to fill each second with notes or chords, Lee instead focuses on delivering well-thought out rhythmic punches that drive the groove home and provide a solid pad for the vocals to sing over.  One of the things that Lee brings to the table that other guitarists often overlook in a duo setting is single-line fills and accompaniment.  During songs such as “Faith is What We Need,” Lee uses single bass notes to provide backing during song’s verse sections.  While in other instances, on this track and others on the album, Lee ditches the chords for a moment, laying down a sweet single-note run to clear the listener’s aural pallet, before returning back to main groove of the tune.  This type of approach is not only a testament to Lee’s mature musicianship, but a showcase of his advanced control of a wide variety of techniques on the instrument. 

As a vocalist, Sigrid Evangelista is a strong performer that knows how to reach beyond a pure reading of the melody to bring out the deep emotional context found in each lyrical stanza and melodic notation.  Her performance on the song “A Message from Jesus” is one of the album’s strongest highlights.  Running the length of her vocal range, Sig reaches out with her vocal lines to drag the audience into the message behind the lyrics, using her musicality to draw attention to the meaning behind her lyrics.  Not one to be happy sitting back and playing it safe, Sig reaches for notes that others might avoid, twists and turns the melody in interesting directions and reacts to the moment in a way that is both entertaining and captivating.  With a lesser singer, Lee’s guitar work would have to shoulder the majority of the work load during this record.  But, because Sig matches him with her strong musicianship, the duo joins together in a way that raises the music to new levels of engagement and intensity.  

With such a unique approach to the genre, Lee & Sig add a welcomed new voice to the vocal-guitar duo idiom.  With a tip of their hats to the legendary duo of Tuck and Patti, the two Australian based musicians are never less than stellar throughout Lord I Turn to You.   While the lyrical content is geared towards a Christian audience, don’t let this be a deterrent when deciding on whether this music is for you.  Fans of the acoustic guitar, and the vocal-guitar duo genre will find something to enjoy during each track on the album, regardless of whether or not they have the same beliefs or background. 

Rating:   4.5 Stars (out of 5)

Dr. Matt Warnock is a highly experienced music journalist, educator and performer who has written books for Hal Leonard and Mel Bay, as well as hundreds of articles for Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, All About Jazz.com and Modern Guitar Magazine. Currently, he is Editor in Chief for Guitar International Magazine where, beyond his editorial duties, he has interviewed some of the biggest names in the business including Robby Krieger, Ace Frehley, Brian Aubert , George Benson and John Pizzarelli. Matt is also Director of Guitar Studies at Western Illinois University and the Executive Director of the WIU Guitar Festival.

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