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Pick and Choose
Guitarist Eric Loy's seventh album explores diverse territory
By Melissa Fowler-Presock
Published in Impact Weekly December 17th, 2001

     To make a living as a musician armed with only a guitar and a song is no small feat in the Miami Valley.  Add to that the fact that you play acoustically in a town fraught with three chord electric guitarists and you have a minor miracle. 

      But Lewisburg Guitarist Eric Loy has managed to not only do just that, he's also thrived. With his seventh CD, Freehand, Loy has continued on a path of self-exploration and innovation. Ranging from sinewy ballads to smoking jams, Freehand is a cornucopia.

     Recorded at The Main Sound Studio in Brookville, the albums 12 tracks which Loy describes as "coloring outside the lines, more avant-garde" were done in different tunings, something the artist said he seriously pursed as a challenge. 

      "It was a real pleasure that finally one album shows all of the different sides of me" said Loy who describes himself as a storyteller.  "When I generally work on a piece, I very often think about the mood of a song sometimes I want to write a funky one, other times, a pretty one.  Quite often times now I'll feel a ballad coming on or "No, this is a funk/fusion thing."

        Along with those elements, Loy said each song has individual meanings, which he hopes will translate to listeners.   "When I listen to artists, I like to know what their impetus was, what inspires them to paint, write a story or do the job they do." He said.

      "Lifters and Leaners," the first track on Freehand, was inspired by a friend who had been through some hard times and told Loy there were two kinds of people:  lifters and leaners.  "Moment of Intent," a serious ballad with tinges of Spanish flamenco showcasing Loy's masterful fret style, was the answer to the artist's personal query of "What is the deepest, most profound moment a person experiences?"  "Preposterous Rhinoceros" is a pleasantly lumbering result of Loy's trip to the zoo.

     Although he jokingly admits to using "materials I scraped up" for his current album, he is proud of Freehand's eclectic nature.

     "After years of listening to classical guitar, you'd find albums entirely played with nylon string guitars," he said of the concentrated nature of the acoustic genre, "(whereas) this album is like Jekyl and Hyde.  I think it flows well.  It's good to have diversity."

      From the early blues stylings of Robert Johnson and '60s folk guitarists Peter, Paul and Mary to the avant-garde finger pickings of  Leo Kottke, acoustic guitar has evolved in may of the same ways as the electric.   However Loy said his main focus has never been on becoming a commercial success.

     "I do what's inside of me," he said.  "What  Freehand is, is 110 percent of me.   I didn't try to compromise or commercialize the material.  It's me naked."

     Another element Loy was intent on not compromising is his strong Christian faith.  Tracks such as "Good Report" and "One Innocent Man" were influenced by his relationship with God, which he said has allowed him to remain grounded. In addition to his solo project, Loy still plays with local jazz/rock fusion band "Hipperoos."

     "I honestly want to be in the center of God's will.  If I get to play Carnegie Hall one day, great, but teaching kids how to play "Wipeout" is great too!"

     "I do what I want with all my heart," he said 

Reach Impact Weekly Staff Writer
Melissa Fowler-Presock at
mpresock@impactweekly.com

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