It's been eight years since Jan Akkerman's last solo release, and if he wanted to confirm the idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder, he's certainly gone the right way about it.
Most of his solo outings have followed the jazz fusion route, this album is no exception, although the classical/flamenco feel of Spiritual Privacy heralds a welcome return that proves he has lost none of his spark. Tommy's Anniversary plays with late night jazz feel, but is given the seductive Akkerman touch that's filled with the sort of technical wizardry we've come to expect. Alternating between acoustic and electric guitar, the album fluctuates between different styles depending on which he picks up. Don Giovanni moves away from the ultimately laid back feel of the album and shows Akkermans shredding skills as the album begins to warm up. Fromage jumps in with a Larry Carlton style jazz funk jam that has the crystal clean precision that only the best axemen can channel.
The album's title was inspired by the notion that when you are too close to an object you fail to see its real value. Who knows if this was an intentional in joke after a hiatus. Either way, Close Beauty is a reminder of why Akkerman is a guitarist to be revered and respected, no matter how long he stays away.
Groupie rating 4/5