Album Review of
Jerry's Smilin': A Guitar Tribute to the Grateful Dead

Written by Joe Ross
November 18, 2020 - 7:19pm EST
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From Malloca, Spain, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, Damià Timoner studied classical guitar as a boy, became a prolific composer, and has released ten albums since 1992. He is clearly a man dedicated to his art and following his muse. Influenced by the new acoustic sounds of guitarists like Michael Hedges and Alex Degrassi,  Damià Timoner’s style emphasizes textured chording, melodic picking, and occasional lowering of his bass strings for added depth and resonance. Timoner is also a fan of rock music ranging from the Allman Brothers to Deep Purple, and the Byrds to Led Zeppelin. On Jerry’s Smilin’, Timoner performs his arrangements of ten Grateful Dead songs that were chosen to feature pieces by different composers who had been in the band over the years. While one might miss hearing the lyrics, this acoustic flight emphasizes a relaxed, instrumental perspective on the Dead’s music. As a high school kid, I nearly wore out my copies of the band’s seminal 1970 “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty” albums. For that reason, I particularly enjoyed Timoner’s rendition of “Operator.” Other standouts on this tribute album are those like “Cassidy” and “Brown-Eyed Woman” where the melodies convey substantial emotional impact. The Grateful Dead had several songs like “Dark Star,” “Touch of Grey” and their “Terrapin Station” suite that they performed in extended, illusory settings with allusive lyrics. Timoner’s instrumental arrangements for solo nylon-strung guitar are more tightly controlled, yet they also have oblique, evocative qualities. This album’s strength is its comforting, relaxing warmth sure to please even the most loyal “Dead head” or those just recently discovering the band’s music.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)