Grammy-winning fingerstyle guitarist and Missoula resident Bill Mize gives us 10 tunes on this, his sixth album, nine of which he wrote. His wife, musician Beth Bramhall, plays accordion.
The Tennessee native, a past winner of the elite Winfield, Kansas national guitar competition, has been pickin’ since he was almost a toddler. When he saw Elvis on TV at the age of 3 or 4, he knew then music was going to be his life’s calling.
Save for Astor Piazzolla’s “Milonga del Angel,” with its soft and sweet Parisian ambience (thanks in part to Bramhall’s accordion stylings), Mize believes this recording evokes more of the flavor of the mountain music he was raised on than past efforts.
“Joe Pye Jig” has a folk-song elegance, rippling with an old-time sound. “Every Dog Has His Day” brandishes a relaxing waltz feel, and “The Captain’s Friend” percolates with a country-blues nuance, percussively snapping its way through a dissonant melody. Mize’s unmistakable approach and brilliant tone are in fine form here.
The title tune, “The Back of Beyond,” has a silky melody, replete with harmonic pings and a light touch. The sound of crickets introduces the hypnotic “A Child of God,” and “Call Pick” simply rocks.
Consummate fretwork, rolling and expressive, peppers the crisp and jazzy “Romancing the Tone.” It’s one of Mize’s old flat-picking tunes that he decided to play as a fingerstyle number. Cool song tltle, yes?
Mize’s nimble proficiency, so effortless and melodic, is something we take for granted until we start to wonder how the heck he does that. No matter. Just enjoy.
– Mariss McTucker