Michael Dowdle, a new member of TGP, seems to have found a most interesting way to give people a chance to hear his compositions and playing. I found him by accident on YouTube when looking for a blues video. Fortune smiled on me because I clicked on the link and gave it a listen. I must have watched/listened to that video 3 or 4 times before moving forward to listen to a number of his other videos. The guy has some VERY serious chops and is a more than capable composer.
Convergence can be seen and heard, for the most part, by simply watching Dowdle’s YouTube videos. It sure beats the short soundclips you would hear on CDBaby or Amazon! However, if you want more of each tune, you would be missing an opportunity if you don’t buy the CD that has most of these on it. If the videos are a marketing ploy, it certainly worked on me!
I’ll say flat out that if you don’t care for players like Eric Johnson or Satriani, you might not like Michael Dowdle. There is no doubt, when listening to either the videos or the actual CD, that Johnson has been a big influence for Dowdle, something he acknowledges. Frankly, although some of the tunes on Convergence could have easily matched the early Eric Johnson compositions for playing and writing, if all that Dowdle turned out to be was a clone of others, you wouldn’t be reading this review. If, like I did, you take the time to watch several of his videos, you would find that there is far more to Mr. Dowdle than an Eric wannabe. The guy can play with the best of them, and his writing skills consistently led me down musical paths that maintained my interest from start to finish of his new CD.
Most of us could only wish to have the technique, ease of music flow, feel and sense of when to let loose or play it tight that I hear when I listen to this CD…….or watch him on his videos. Yes, Eric Johnson lives somewhere within him, but tunes like “Swank” and “Mikey’s Bluesy Shuffle” will convince you that there far more than first meets the ears. Even if you’re not a Johnson fan, there are tunes on this CD that will blow you out of your listening chair if you have any appreciation for talented guitar playing. Let your brain feast on “Big Big Sky”, for instance. You don’t believe me? Take in the YouTube version and decide for yourself!
The limitations of low-rez audio won’t be found on the CD versions of these tunes. The production of the CD is excellent, with Michael’s guitar playing against itself as the sound moves from dead center of the soundstage to fill the room, and then slips back to the center. Drums and bass playing are spectacular, and the blend of the trio lends a sense of force and truly tight timing to the music.
I’d happily go see Dowdle live. Watching the videos, where he sits on his couch and plays against the recorded drums and bass tracks, you get a sense that he has that "something special”. For now, I am happily giving Convergence a heavy rotation. If you like what you hear on the videos, do yourself a favor and get the real deal by buying Convergence at Michael's website!