July 9th, 2024

Music Spot: Curtis Fornadley - A Half Step Away

Music Spot: Curtis Fornadley - A Half Step Away

From time to time, we shine the spotlight on a SoundGym member by reviewing one of their releases for our Music Spot feature. This time around we are checking out guitarist Curtis Fornadley’s album, ‘A Half Step Away’. Fornadley has delivered an album that is primarily guitar-driven; something that is somewhat unusual in 2024, and it therefore provides a refreshing listen. 

Fornadley is keen to foreground his genre inclusive approach to writing and performance, stating “There are two types of music: music I like and music I don’t like”. He started off playing classical guitar at 11 years old, and has since assimilated influences including rock, jazz, blues, surf and country. ‘A Half Step Away’, the guitarist’s sixth studio album, showcases this blend of genre over the course of a 13 song set. 

Although the album is composed primarily of originals, it begins with one of the two covers on the record; a rip-roaring version of ‘A Taste Of Honey’. This song, originally written by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow, was probably made most famous by The Beatles. Fornadley’s take is an early statement of intent; combining jazz, blues rock and even heavy rock influences across less than three minutes. It’s a great introduction to his sound. 

The second cover on the album is, if anything, even bolder. He has reworked The Doors’ classic ‘The Crystal Ship’ for solo, fingerpicked guitar – a total reimagining of the organ driven original. It’s a surprising and interesting version that you imagine could provide a really special moment at live shows.

Other influences are evident throughout the record. ‘Black Licorice’ evokes the style of Blue Öyster Cult in places, while the John Barry-inspired strings combined with heavy rock in ‘Shaken, Not Stirred’ is reminiscent of that most iconic fusion of James Bond themes and rock, Guns N' Roses' cover of ‘Live and Let Die’. Meanwhile ‘Santa Ana Surf’ furnishes us with a classic surf rock sound, performed with great fluidity and musicality. The influence of jazz on Fornadley’s playing bubbles under throughout, but is allowed to really come to the fore on ‘Chillin Out’, the penultimate track on the album.  

The album closes with ‘A Final Peace For Jeff’, undoubtedly a tribute to Jeff Beck who sadly passed away in the run up to this album’s release. It’s a fitting tribute to the one guitarist who you suspect may have had the biggest influence of all on Fornadley’s playing; you really do sense his presence right across this record. 

Only three tracks on this album feature vocalists; ‘Do It’, ‘Moth To A Flame’ and ‘Bad Habits’. The addition of vocals in places is a welcome one, particularly as it seems to encourage Fornadley to push into different areas musically. ‘Moth To A Flame’ is the only acoustic driven track on the album, ‘Bad Habits’ provides its heaviest moment, while ‘Do It’ surges into funk rock territory. 

However, the star of the show here is unquestionably Fornadley’s guitar playing; particularly enjoyable as it is rarer than it once was for rock albums to be driven by the instrument in this way. Each track on the album is defined by this artist’s singular style, characterised by great melodies, impressive virtuosity, and deeply soulful playing. 

If you want to dig further into Curtis Fornadley’s work, a great place to start is his website. You can also hear his music on Spotify or YouTube. You can follow him on Instagram, Facebook and X



Nice playing!
Yohai Zilber
Jul 11
Great Music!

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