Josh Kimbrough: Slither, Soar & Disappear


[Tompkins Square; June 19]

Nearly every song on Josh Kimbrough’s new instrumental guitar record, Slither, Soar & Disappear, hones in on an evocative image of the natural world: There’s “Giant Leopard Moth” and “Morning Moon,” “Backyard Hawk” and “Sunbathing Water Snake.” Kimbrough is adept at the emotional close lens, and the specificity of these images makes each song feel rich and suspended in amber. 

Kimbrough, whom you might know from Chapel Hill indie bands like Butterflies and Teardrop Canyon, wrote the album during scattered moments of quiet as a new parent. A radiant immersion in the present moment shines through. 

A fingerstyle guitarist and composer long associated with Trekky Records, Kimbrough enlists Casey Toll, Jeff Crawford, Andrew Marlin, and Leah Gibson for instrumental backing on this album—the first under his own name—and they give it a textured, dynamic feel. 

Kimbrough has said that he learned to play music by studying Freddie King instrumentals, and that bluesy influence is apparent in his deft fingerpicking. He stirs up lush flurries of notes as the songs weave between plaintive moments of isolated steel-string and full-bodied instrumentation (double bass, flute, strings, mandolin, banjo, and drums). 

On “Backyard Hawk,” Rachel Kiel’s trilling flute creates a sense of soaring, while Kimbrough’s patient, probing guitar brings the song back to earth. As with parenthood, he may be experiencing something big and awe-inspiring, but it’s in his backyard and he’s there for it. So are we. 

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