Craig Anderson has long been regarded as one of the finest luthiers in Vermont. The Burlington-based cabinetmaker and acoustic-guitar builder has been furnishing local players with his handcrafted axes for nearly 15 years. Recently, Anderson announced his retirement from the guitar trade — he’s passing his business to fellow luthier Lars Whitman. But before Anderson rides off into the sunset — presumably plucking one of his A1 dreadnaught guitars — he wanted to say thanks to the community that has supported and inspired him. That sentiment comes in the form of Anderson’s debut record, A Moment in Time. Its nine original compositions feature three of his instruments — including the Mantar, a hybrid guitar-mandolin of his own invention — and a collection of some of his best folk-singing pals.
Anderson is a polished guitar player, and his clean, precise lines bloom with pure tones throughout. Not surprisingly, his instrumental prowess — not to mention his instruments — are showcased front and center. But equally compelling are Anderson’s folk-centric songs, delivered in an easy baritone, occasionally shaded with something resembling a light Celtic brogue.
That Anderson is well schooled in both classic and modern folk traditions is evident from the opening notes of “In the Evening.” The moody, churning number evokes evenings spent with a special someone, huddled cozily against a stormy night just beyond the living-room window.
“Autumn” is next and features beautiful, three-part harmonies, courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Colin McCaffrey and local songwriter John Gibbons. McCaffrey also engineered the recording, and his handiwork can be heard all over the album. The go-to guy for local acoustic-music recordings, central Vermont’s McCaffrey imbues the record with warmth and softness, which perfectly accentuate Anderson’s light, affable style.
The bulk of the material here is love songs, and Anderson sings them with believability and sensitivity. He’s not breaking any molds lyrically, but his straightforward approach is charming, especially when aided by vocalist Karen McFeeters, as on the Latin-hued “Maria Rose.” McFeeters’ sweet, unadorned voice is a lovely complement to Anderson’s pleasing tone.
In the liner notes to his album, Anderson writes that the record is meant as a reflection on his life and dreams, as well a gracious ode to his friends and family. And that sense of gratitude and humility pervades A Moment in Time. Short, simple and sweet, it’s a genuinely heartwarming collection.
A Moment in Time by Craig Anderson is available at craigandersonguitars.com.