Every now and then you take a break from your travels long enough to find treasure in your own backyard.
My current home, Portland, Oregon has broken a number of interesting musical acts in the last few years (my recent favorite, the band Dolorean) and spawned it’s own parody on the Independent Film Channel (Portlandia), but this 23 year old Oregonian may be our cities’ greatest musical treasure yet.
Having already played the Montreal Jazz Festival and won numerous guitar competitions, Lee Ritenour says that Robertson “has a very original touch and monster chops.” Citing the late Buster B. Jones as a major influence, Roberston has been playing since being exposed to Jones’ music and shortly thereafter became a student.
A highly developed finger picking style firmly in place, Robertson’s third CD, Into The Trees, sounds like the work of an older artist, but don’t let the age fool you, he’s been gigging all over the world for the past 12 years. His light touch on the fretboard (and is currently the youngest guitarist to endorse Godin guitars) pervades all of the tracks on the album.
Penning about half of the tracks on the album, Robertson performs all with equal aplomb, sparsely accompanied on a few by banjo and sax, though no musician credits are listed. A couple of the sax accompanied tracks tread dangerously into the smooth jazz arena, but the rest are reminiscent of the best finger pickers you’ve heard. Just when you start to hear Robertson’s favorite influences sneaking into the mix, he heads out into virgin territory with his own unique voice.
Best of all, this young artist knows the importance of a great recording as well – the tracks have a wealth of dynamics and ambiance – I was reminded of the purity displayed by Alex DeGrassi’s early vinyl releases on the Windham Hill label.
If you’re looking for a new acoustic guitar virtuoso to enjoy,
look no further.