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World Music CD Reviews North American

LA GUITARA: GENDER BENDING STRINGS

By Derek Beres
Published June 27, 2006

Vanguard

In response to the question “Why are there no great female guitarists?” Patty Larkin has plenty to say. Or rather disprove, given the weightless virtuosity of La Guitara, a collection of 14 women strumming their chosen weapons with diligence and grace. This may be the most ambitious collection of females assembled in one recording. Given the vast range of styles and complex simplicity in song, Larkin’s ear proves finely tuned. Memphis Minnie shows a lighter levee breaking on “Let’s Go to Town,” a crackling, dusty throwback reemerged. Kaki King, one of the most accomplished female instrumentalists today, chimes in on “Kewpie Station.” Of course Larkin appears with a reflective “Bound Brook.” The collection is not limited to guitar (Wu Man opens with the Chinese pipa) or instrumentals (Ellen McIlwaine’s yodeling inside slide guitar fury). It is limited, however, in that each song is worthwhile ­ a rare feat for any compilation, regardless of gender.