When UK-native James Blackshaw plays his 12-string guitar, something spiritual takes place. Performing and recording since 2003, his name is frequently mentioned as one of the foremost modern solo acoustic guitarists. Now at the age of 25, Blackshaw, an untrained musician born and still residing in the suburban environs of Greater London, draws as much inspiration from early religious music, South-Asian folk music and composers such as Arvo Part, Simeon Ten Holt, Steve Reich and Charlemagne Palestine as he does from John Fahey, Robbie Basho and the early Takoma Records roster, constantly breaking boundaries in what could be conceived as a somewhat limited medium. In his part improvised and part written songs, Blackshaw makes expert use of Eastern and Western scales, chord changes reminiscent of European classical music and incredibly intricate fingerpicking patterns to make a sound that is both challengingly minimalistic, yet warm and approachable to anybody who might hear it, with a rare sensitivity that conveys both immense beauty, hope and sadness.
Blackshaw has been featured in a range of magazines across the world including The Seattle Weekly, The Washington Post, Italy's Blow Up magazine and most recently in a full - page article in the October 2006 issue of The Wire.