With his debut solo album just a fortnight away, Cameron Knowler invites us to contemplation in ‘Kuyina’

Cameron Knowler. photographed by Laura Lee Blackburn

WITH HIS two-hander album with Eli Winter, Anticipation, an excellent study in guitar primitivism, just three months behind us in the rear-view mirror, Texas acoustic explorer is just a fortnight or so away from the release of his debut album proper, Places Of Consequence – a study of roots, memory and the land in the grand tradition of the guitar soli.

It’s a beautiful record, speaks to our collective souls in 2021, sounds, outside some more Wim Wendersian electric interludes, as if you could be listening to it rapt on a desert porch in 1921, so steeped in the beautiful American solo acoustic guitar tradition is he.

He’s just dropped a final single before the album’s release: it’s called “Kuyina”, it’s brief but so beautifully deep, and you can hear it below.

The album closer, “Kuyina”’s derived, we’re told, from a tune by Congolese accordionist Camille Feruzi and the late, legendary fiddler Jon Bekoff, who, it’s said, died moments after playing the song in his backyard. Cameron’s arrangement pays tribute to his late mother, is a gentle caress and has a striking, plummeting bent note 18 seconds in, which opens out the song out, rents briefly into a place beyond; such a masterful, significant touch. 

Places of Consequence deploys guitar and banjo as cinematic tools to soundtrack and investigate the American West. 

“Despite the fact that the lightheartedness of youth lifts and the problematic components of the West reveal themselves over time,” Cameron says, “there are still ways of harnessing the space to richly creative ends.”

Cameron spent his childhood in Yuma, Arizona and Houston, Texas, where he rode dirt bikes in the desert, wrote poetry, visited antique stores with his mother; but it was aged 17 that a bluegrass concert changed his life, and he began practicing guitar for twelve to sixteen hours a day. 

We’ve lived inside Places Of Consequence a good, long while, and we say: “Cameron’s debut set is nothing if not ambitious; it sets out to define his place, bound his settlement with his desert youth and the music he lives within and draws on. His knowledge and understanding of all these traditions is preternatural, his perception of the nuances of it far beyond his years. And it’s that core body in correspondence with the fragmentary, amplified vignettes that lend the record an extra sparkle; I am so this, he seems to say, and yet I am also wholly, wholly of this, too.

Places Of Consequence is a new music that presents as old as the hills, rooted and finding new atmospheric horizons.”

Look out for our full review on the morning of July 11th.

Cameron Knowler’s Places Of Consequence will be released by American Dreams on July 16th digitally, on limited CD, on trad black and mail-order exclusive yellow vinyl, and bundled with an accompanying children’s book; go browse your preferred options and place your order over at Bandcamp.

Connect with Cameron at his official website and on Instagram.

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