Langtry is the one-man acoustic project of Patrick McKinney from scenic Tallahassee, FL. If the guitarist's thoughtful, furry visage or country water-clean picking style seems familiar, it's because you may have heard him supporting Iron & Wine, both alongside Sam Beam and as an opener. He also lent his talents in-studio to Iron & Wine's Our Endless Numbered Days
. However, not all fans of that band should necessarily leap upon these winding, vocal-less pieces expecting anything like it; McKinney's sound is somewhat more abstract, hopscotching between blues and folk riffs with the technical deftness of a virtuoso.
From a pure musicianship standpoint, As Upon the Road Thereto is a flabbergasting achievement. With no overdubs or accompaniment, McKinney conjures tornadoes of notes, licks and ideas with frightening rapidity and infinite ease. It's not just flying fingers, though -- his playing, which nods primarily to greats like John Fahey and Leo Kottke, also knows lovely restraint.
The album fluctuates between minimalist, folksy blues ("Billy Bowlegs Blues"), raucous stompers ("The Ballad of Painless Parker") and simple, elegant beauty ("The Erotic Melancholy of Cypress"). The freeform "There is No Such Joy as Upon the Road Thereto" covers all of that ground, transitioning from secret-soft minimalism to fast, perky blues riffs towards the end. Although the album owes its biggest debt to Fahey, in these more reflective moments you can also hear hints of modern sky-gazing groups like The Six Parts Seven and anything out of Jewelled Antler. With the most basic ingredients, McKinney has crafted an album strapped with both complex intricacies and simple charms.