Tony Furtado is a master of his craft. A virtuoso both on guitar and banjo, his ability to traverse lighting quick bluegrass, tender ballads, and country slide guitar styles with ease is a testament to his genius as an artist. On Paradise, Furtado brings in a cello-banjo, which is much lower pitched than a regular banjo. It’s a special treat, and he appropriately introduces it to us with immense care. Cookie’s signature live Extended Sound Environment recording technique brings out the beauty, lyricism, and raw emotion that make Furtado’s playing so special. No headphones or overdubs were used; just Neumann microphones, Millenia preamps, and Blue Coast’s own Silver Cable recording direct to DSD.
What immediately stands out about Furtado that makes him such a unique talent is the way he makes his instrument sing so beautifully regardless of the style he is employing. On the opening track, “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” a cover of Tom Petty, Furtado opens with a rush of bluegrass energy. Yet despite the speed, his touch is soft and lyrical, creating an uplifting energy that sets us off on our journey. Furtado’s ability, then, to sing—and he sings with a clear, beautiful voice to boot—while so effortlessly fingerpicking is doubly impressive. Title track “Paradise” finds Furtado excelling in the style of a tender ballad. It is a beautiful homage to roots and a longing for home, and Furtado captures the feeling of nostalgic fondness with care. “Vigilante Man” is a standout track, one that highlights Furtado’s skill on the slide guitar. Here, his playing is heavily stylized with a country twang, yet even with the sharp accents peppered throughout, the sound is never harsh or abrasive. His guitar really sings on this track, like a virtuoso belting emotional vocal runs.