Fingerstyle jazz guitarist Sean McGowan’s Thanksgiving and Christmas Tidings is a 16-track solo guitar outing. McGowan, who serves as the Guitar Program Director at the University of Colorado Denver, tackles some infrequently heard melodies, like “We Gather Together" and “The Cutty Wren," and mixes them with some holiday giants. In McGowan’s hands, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" is a beautiful jazz piece, with inventive runs punctuating the swinging chord-melody arrangement. His opening descending line in “Jingle Bells" is an immediate cue that this is a fresh take on the classic. And McGowan carries his loose, blues-inspired preamble to “Go Tell It on the Mountain" throughout his take on the tune, again breathing life into a well-known melody. McGowan has made an instrumental holiday album that I want to actively listen to, not just have as pleasant, familiar background. And, he’s made a great album that makes me appreciate all that can be done with the combination of familiar tunes, a single guitar, and supremely talented hands.
- Dan Gabel, Peghead Nation (Dec. 2014)