The Greek-Roman Ship, third track from the LEGITIMATE album:
A defining battle approaches.
Invading hordes paddle, weaponry is forged, farewell songs embrace sons, lovers and friends.
A self-discovery journey stomps through tragicomic sounds, with dissonant chords, and its endgame is to legitimate a new power.
No, it’s not the season finale of an epic TV series. It’s the newest album from the fingerstyle guitar player Daniel Padim, one of the most prominent musicians from Brazil.
The album, called Legitimate, brings 12 original songs and consolidates the artist’s coming of age. Here, he presents his influences, life experiences and, eventually, reveals himself.
The tracks are structured in a very innovative way, in which each song is a chapter of a bigger, epic fantasy story in the molds of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. A true acoustic guitar opera presented in two acts.
The cover art, exquisitely created by the artist Daniel Daleva, shows Daniel Padim, with a thumbpick, owning eleven blue floating objects upon his right hand’s palm. The booklet inside reveals that each object is an icon representing one of the songs in the album. The illustrations and texts show a story to be told by the guitar, a story that reaches its pinnacle on its twelfth object: a tree.
On an invasion, and the defeat of the nameless kingdom.
The opening song, New Metal, is one of the album’s most impactful tracks and transmits awesomeness with its imposing bass line tempered with an upper melody counterpoint. The polyphony creates a dazzling overture that has an abrupt ending, making us curious about what is to come. This thrilling atmosphere describes, in the story, the battle preparations, with dwarves forging weapons. The song’s icon: an anvil.
A masterpiece of stylistic fusion follows: Flying with White Wings, a fantasy on a theme by Luiz Gonzaga, a Brazilian composer of folkloric songs. The melancholic and powerful melody rests on a pop groove, and the loop pedal (used only in this track) contributes to create an ethereal sound. In the story, the kingdom’s scout flies on a white winged creature, facing the land's desolation. The song’s icon: a wing.
Old Greek Roman Ship must be the coolest song title we’ve ever seen. An extremely visual piece that summons images of warriors paddling old Greek and Roman ships. These are the invading hordes. A song played with poise, the thumb percussions marking the paddling sounds, the chords bringing the weary grunts and angry waves. On top of all that, a memorable melody. The icon: a greek-roman ship.
Still Flying brings more pop/rock to the mix, with snapping riffs between phrases, groovy basses and a compelling melody that we want to whistle right away. Padim emphasizes the attack of each note, pulling the strings with a distinctive snap that resembles a bow firing an arrow. In the story, the kingdom’s scout survives the arrow attack from the invaders. The icon: an arrow.
Song for a King is an elegy, a funeral song for the king, who was killed in combat. It starts with a sad melody over a bass line of repeated notes. Heavenly sounds are added through guitar harmonics, and emotional remarks are made with a palm percussion on the bridge. The song accelerates to resemble despair and the detachment from the regular tempo transmits a fractured reality, as if tears were numbing the perception. The icon: a crown.
Mom Sweet Home is a pearl, a precious ballad of sweet sentiment. The technique used here is to conduct a constant 4/4 strumming underneath a simultaneous melody (this is very typical of Tommy Emmanuel). This ballad brings to mind the warmth of home, and also the pain of the farewells. Represents the soldiers having their last meals, with their families, and the open ending acts almost as if we didn’t want to say goodbye. The icon: a fireplace.
On Bing Forrest’s journey and consecration.
Edge of Anonymity restarts the story in a new place, on the far borders of the kingdom. It is a mysterious, optimistic composition, preparing us for new discoveries. The melodic motifs are chained and overlapped. Sudden pauses, metallic chords and key changes make the music sound always fresh. The icon: a cube with an interrogation mark.
Milongerstyle is another experiment on a fusion of styles. The pop fingerstyle encounters the milonga, a characteristic rhythm from the South of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The rhythm is used on the guitar body percussions, on the harmonics in the second part and, as it usually happens on milongas, on the bass line. In the story, Bing Forrest, a great warrior, lives on a land of upbeat music. The icon: a concertina.
Fearless in the Dark is another one that utilizes the strumming/melody technique. The song brings serenity, confidence, as the calm before the storm. The scout finds Bing Forrest in the middle of the night, and urges him to help. He accepts. The icon: a lamp.
Clockwise is a hypnotic piece that shows Padim’s musical growth. The composition conducts three parallel elements: basses in a constant staccato arpeggio, middle harmony played pianissimo almost as a tremolo and a strong legato singing melody. To execute something like this, where each one of these three elements occurs with its own dynamic, articulation and intention, requires a remarkable control with the right hand. And shows finesse. Aside the impressive technical stuff, it is a melody that sticks in your head. In the story, Bing Forrest runs against time to save the kingdom. The icon: an hourglass.
Bing Forrest’s Journey describes his path to find a new king. It is an episodic composition, that seems to literally tell us an adventure of multiple emotional states. The booklet text toys with nightmarish places (at least for a guitar player) as Rustedstring Mountains or Tonekill Forest. Here Padim uses the classic picking technique, with the thumb alternating between basses with a pizzicato sound, and the other fingers executing the melody and harmony. An homage to the Fingerstyle traditions (Chet Atkins). The icon: a boot.
Bing Forrest Meets Meaning of Life is the conclusion of the journey, when he is anointed king himself. A composition that crowns Padim as a mature musician. It is a clear homage to Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Etude 1 for guitar, one of the most important pieces of the classic guitar repertoire. With it, Padim tells us a tale about his path from the classical guitar origins to the more personal and unconventional styles. Arpeggios turn into melodies, constant tempo turns into rhythmic freedom. The transformation translates in a moving, breathing piece of music. As a tree, Padim absorbs his environment, transforms it, rises upon it, makes it his own.
By the end, it is hard to remember this is a solo guitar work, or a purely instrumental album. The impression is that we’ve just attended a theatrical epic, only with our ears. That we’ve known different places, cultures, languages. The impressive technique is not remembered, the guitar is not remembered, the player is not remembered, none of those distracts us from the inexorable fact that we’ve just had a multi-sensorial groundbreaking experience. And this makes Daniel Padim a legitimate artist.
By Samuel Huh