When it comes to progressive acoustic guitar, Mark Vickness is truly in a league of his own. His latest album "In The Rain Shadow" had me glued to my headphones from start to finish, constantly hitting replay on each track.

Mark assembled a full musical group for this project called MVI, which stands for Mark Vickness Interconnected. Right away, you can tell this is going to be something special. The album is a full-concept piece inspired by nature. Each song is meant to transport you to a different natural setting.

The album kicks off with "High Desert", which eases you into a sunny morning with some gentle guitar arpeggios. As the sun rises, you start hearing other instruments join in one by one, like birds waking up. It sets the scene perfectly. Things picked up with "The Gorge", which got my toes tapping with its bouncy guitar lines and interwoven strings. The violin in particular danced around so gracefully. "Stillness (for Will)" took on an enchanting Irish folk vibe that put me in a trance. And "Roadrunner" got me pumped with its stunning fingerwork - I could picture myself at a late-night festival, energy buzzing as the musicians bounced ideas off each other under the stars.

Some of my other favorites included "Rupak (for Ty)", which offered shelter from the rain with its soothing woodwind and tabla. I loved how it set the scene of driving through an arid canyon during a light storm. And "Cloud Shadows" was like gazing at misty mountain peaks - the complex layers seamlessly floated around each other in a mesmerizing waltz. Then "On the Cliffs of Mohr" let me pause for peaceful reflection as soft cello and guitar arpeggios drifted by.

The title track "In The Rain Shadow" brings everything full circle at the end. It's a beautiful, bittersweet goodbye as the sunlight fades. The ensemble pulls at your heartstrings with those emotional chords and textures.

Overall I was just blown away by Mark and MVI’s musicality on this record. They blend all these acoustic textures, timbres, and colors into one hypnotic soundscape. Every song puts you there in the natural environment it represents. And of course, Mark’s guitar chops are out of this world as usual. If you’re into progressive acoustic music that pushes boundaries but also wants to pull at your heartstrings, I can’t recommend this album enough. Mark Vickness has certainly delivered another masterpiece with "In The Rain Shadow." Listen to the album today on any streaming site of your choice.

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