When a friend of mine got hold of "First Impressions", I was a bit taken by surprise. Despite enjoying Matheos' licks quite a lot, and knowing his collaborations with John Arch and Mike Portnoy (through O.S.I.), I had no idea he also had solo albums. Well, let's just give it a try, I decided.
I'm in awe. After recovering from the shock of learning that this album goes back all the way to 1993, I had to recover from another shock: there's no heaviness, no distortion, no great riffing. This is a completely mellow, acoustic and classic(al) album back to back. And, oh the humanity, it's so damn good.
Somehow this reminded me of "Hero" (aka "Ying Xiong"), the acclaimed 2002 Chinese stylish movie and the songs inside can at times be oddly beautiful nearly moving you to tears. The only complain is that sometimes it is so much into itself, blends so easily that it falls a little too much into the background.
But no matter. This is a truly brilliant album and proof that Jim Matheos is one of the most gifted - and underrated, why not say it - guitar players of our time. When an artist goes completely out of his element and still attains something like this, there's something very special to him. Matheos is one such case.