The Greek guitarist Nancy Goudinaki is a charismatic artist with a distinctive voice in a field crowded with technically immaculate, but intermittently inspired players. Supplementing her [musically] highly personal album What I Was For You:re.think is a version of the album’s title song on a rather novel-looking and sounding MOOVtravel guitar, an instrument that folds into a case-size instrument, enabling this extraordinary artist to travel light and easily from venue to venue. This is something Miss Goudinaki has been doing with a good deal of success especially on her tribe – not to mention the audiences who listen intent and rapt to her playing.
There is something idiosyncratic about Miss Goudinaki’s artistry but I find it often charming, sometimes shocking in a revelatory rarely, and rarely if ever cold or didactic. This is unusual among the members of her [guitar-packing] tribe. But back to the music which from the very first notes of her opening song – Augustine Barrios’ “La Catedral” – it’s clear that Miss Goudinaki conceives them in the spirit of Spanish classicism. The metre is elastic, notes grouped together for gestural effect, long pauses are inserted for rhetorical purposes and the improvisatory spirit prevails. When order is needed, the guitarist enforces it, sometimes with great drama, as in the second part of the music, which is announced as if bathed in a hard penetrating light.
Though not so rhythmically freewheeling as her own compositions – or even Baden Powell’s “Berimbau” – the classical pieces [“La Catedral” and “El Ultimo Canto” by Barrios and “Fuoco” by Roland Dyans] – their whimsy and finesse is altogether welcome. Miss Goudinaki’s marvelous piece “Ariadne’s Lullaby” is taken almost agonisingly slowly, but as each section unfolds, the reasoning behind the tempo becomes clear: Miss Goudinaki is beginning the variation process even before the elegy pours into the interstices of the lullaby, with extra, aria-like splendour and deeply personal elaboration. It’s a masterpiece of a composition characterised by eloquence and tenderness.
The reprise of “What I Was For You…” on the MOOVtravel guitar is worthy of mention because it comes with unique contrasts in the instrument’s tonal quality and contrasts – when compared to the nylon-string full-bodied classical guitar – and the song itself is a fetchingly light and playful interpretation. This makes it a perfect way to bring the album to a close. Also worthy of note is that the title song [“What I Was For You: re.think”] is a duet with the inimitable tenor saxophonist JD Allen. Also featured on the album are the extraordinary bassist Ritchie Goods [on “Nereid’s”] and the mysteriously-named Devo D as a back-up singer on “La Catedral” and “Feel Alive”]. This is just the kind of surprise that is needed to lift the music into a rarefied realm – already inhabited by a guitarist who is already a prodigiously gifted artist.
Tracks: 1: La Catedral; 2: Fuoco; 3: What I Was For You: re.think; 4: Nereid’s; 5: Feel Alive; 6: Berimbau; 7: One Night in Caldera; 8: Ariadne’s Lullaby; 9: El Ultimo Canto; 10: What I Was For You: re.think [with MOOVtravel Guitar]
Tracks: Nancy Goudinaki: nylon string guitar, MOOVtravel Guitar  and vocals [1, 5]; JD Allen: tenor saxophone ; Richie Goods: electric bass ; Devo D: back-up vocals [1, 5]
Released – 2022
Label – Independent
Runtime – 37:29