But unlike ‘The Wind and the Wheat,’ or his first instrumental, ‘The Master and the Musician,’ this is an entirely acoustic performance.
However, like ‘The Wind and the Wheat,’ in this recording, Phil does not show off how fast and furious his fingers can jump around the fretboard. Rather, he slows down and lets the listener soak in the tones and melodies and mood of the album as if (like the album cover suggests) he is taking us on a long walk in the woods.
While some might argue that an acoustic instrumental album could get away with cutting corners on production quality and no one would notice, we actually do notice the effort placed into making every little detail just right. The tones and mixtures of acoustical instruments, as well as ageless rhythms and melodies, the ability to hear every note crisply and clearly and with a vibrant ring, has given this album a timeless quality.
One of the highlights of the album is “County Down,” which does have some snappy finger playing, and which Phil plays in an alternate tuning. It has become one of his signature instrumentals in concert. Hearing (and watching) Phil play “County Down” in concerts is amazing because (as he has said) he never plays it the same way twice.
Another highlight is the brilliant “A Place of Springs” which segues nicely (and uninterrupted) from the tender and melodic, “As Warm As Tears.” Here, Phil doesn’t stray too far from the album’s mood, but does give us a glimpse into his creative genius.
This album made it to #2 on a “Fingerstyle Magazine” reader’s poll of the best fingerstyle albums of all time. He is frequently at the top of the list for the magazine’s best guitarists poll, as well as others.