It may be his best guitar record yet, and the specialness lies in that it isn’t only that.

ALBUM

John Butler Trio
Flesh and Blood
Vanguard Records

Aussie roots virtuoso John Butler is known for his masterful lap-steel talent, as well as his unusual preference for playing acoustic guitars through a variety of pedals and distorted Marshall amps. But when it comes to the playing of stringed instruments, he virtually does it all, and extremely well at that, with a rare air of originality. JBT carved a niche in the jam-blues circuit with the success of Sunrise Over Sea in 2004, and has since built a following with accessible songwriting and experimental multi-instrumentalism that includes Australia’s beloved didgeridoo.

So it should be no surprise that this album is richly textured, going from clean to feeding-back 12-string fingerstyle excursions, and then to Weissenborn–fueled exclamations (“Livin’ in the City” and “Devil Woman”), while the last quarter of the album moves to a mellower, more melodically haunting pace. It may be his best guitar record yet, and the specialness lies in that it isn’t only that.

Must-hear tracks: “Livin’ in the City,” “Young and Wild”

Switching between contrasting reverb voices doubles the fun.

Smart, versatile, interactive and rangeful controls. Intuitive. Capable of great contrasts between A/B presets. Sturdy enclosure. Effective damping controls tame twee high-octave overtones.

Can’t switch reverb voices as you switch presets. Enclosure is big relative to depth of functionality. No-fun styling.

$229

Fender Dual Marine Layer
fender.com

4
4
4.5
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Fender and reverb go together like gumbo and rice. Historically, the spring tanks in the company’s amplifiers and tube-driven outboard units have defined the Fender reverb sound. But in 2018, when Fender released the Marine Layer digital reverb, it did not include a spring reverb emulation. The new Dual Marine Layer doesn’t have a spring emulation either. Instead, it’s brimming with sounds and functions well-suited for less retro-reverb expressions, including thick chorus textures and shimmer reverb, and has a soft-relay sustain switch that enables momentary creation of ambient beds. It’s also capable of some very classy, subdued reverb colors, plus a few that can effectively stand in for spring and plate sounds in a pinch.

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PRS Guitars and John Mayer officially announce the PRS SE Silver Sky, an affordable version of the original with PRS trademark bird inlays and three single-coil pickups.

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