Like a poker player with nerves of steel, the multi-talented Ned Evett—singer, songwriter, guitarist, sculptor—has, for his sixth solo album, created an Americana masterpiece in Treehouse (Raging Krill Records), produced by Adrian Belew.

Ned Evett is the winner of the 2003 North American Rock Guitar competition (which resulted in a PBS documentary). He opened for Joe Satriani (who calls Ned “a monster guitarist”) on a mammoth six-month international tour that started in 2010. Trained classically, he plays his own invention, a fretless glass guitar, in a unique fingerpicking style (no guitar picks were used in the building of this Treehouse).

The compositional prowess exhibited by Ned Evett on Treehouse is proof positive he is so much more than the brilliant guitarist upon which he’s made his reputation. His goal going in was to spotlight his unique vocals and songwriting. Consider that goal accomplished. Evett has reached way down deep into the heart of human emotion, chronicling his relationship with the open road and the losses sustained in an effort to create such a profound work. “Don’t Despair,” for instance, contains a universal message tinged with regret yet with hope for the future.

Whether writing about the dissolution of his 20-year marriage or the realization that he’d just be facing economic hardship and loss had he remained in Boise, Treehouse is filled with gut-wrenching compositions offset by solid-cool rock’n’roll, folk whimsy and, of course, incredible chops.

While in Milan, Italy, touring with Satriani, he met former King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, who invited Ned to return to Nashville and work on this record. “In choosing to produce an artist,” says Belew, “I always use the same criteria: a) do I love the music? and b) can I contribute something of value? I was drawn to Ned’s unique blend of Americana styles of music, his songwriting, his voice, and his mastery of fretless guitar, a challenging instrument few people attempt. Ned came through like a champion on all accounts. Along the way we found something which is uniquely Ned, music I’m proud to be a part of and a new friendship. The joy of the experience shines through on every track. Thanks, Ned!”

With Malcolm Bruce on bass (son of Cream’s Jack Bruce), Lynn Williams on drums, Belew on piano and guitar (“Why Can’t I Believe”) and Ed Roth on organ (“Say Goodbye For Both Of Us” and “Just About Over This Time”), Treehouse rocks, then rolls, then soothes with thought-provoking class. From the wild “Dead On A Saturday Night” to the folksy rustic charm of “Say Goodbye For Both Of Us,” there’s a wide range of colors and attitudes on display.

“Because I play a freaky guitar,” Ned explains, “people sometimes brand me as just a guitar player. I mean, I’ve certainly created that impression myself. But this is it for me. I had to write these songs. I put everything on the line moving to Nashville and making this record with Adrian. That’s why I’m all in on Treehouse.”

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