Don Ross’s Brilliant Fretwork Shines On Seabright

The Nova Scotia guitarist shares a soothing standout from his latest album Water.

Don Ross puts his virtuosic fingerpicking in the spotlight in the video for his new single Seabright — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

An instrumental acoustic-guitar piece from his latest album Water, Seabright wraps the listener in warm sunny tones along with finger-picking that evokes shimmering waters and the cascading of oars. You can almost feel the wind whipping your hair, too, with its joyous whimsy and playful rhythm.

The song’s name derives from the name of the small settlement where Ross and his wife lived for those three pandemic years. “The ironic sense of optimism that came out of the time of sanctuary is reflected in the tune,” Ross says. “The whole piece feels like a celebration — perhaps I was just feeling lucky/fortunate to be alive and healthy despite the surrounding chaos.”

In 2020, Covid forced Ross off the road, and he began studying for his master’s degree in orchestration online, with St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia, shimmering right outside his window. At that point, six year after his last solo album, he began to wonder how he was going to release another full-length recording.

“I was wondering if the almost 35-year cycle of recording a new album and touring and playing live was more or less done for me,” he divulges. “But I finally decided that I would do a new, sweeping gesture of a record that would better reflect what I’ve been up to musically lately.” He decided he’d release it independently, then embarked on a fundraising project and met his goal within 28 hours. “This afforded me the opportunity to be a bit more ambitious on this album, hiring an orchestra, and having wonderful guest musicians,” he says, naming Bruce Cockburn, Michael Manring, Brooke Miller and Sean Hall and The Atlantic String Machine. Thus, Water was born.

“I have lived surrounded by water for large chunks of my life,” Ross says. “Also, I spent countless hours during my orchestration degree working in my studio that looked out onto the waters of St Margarets Bay, and the presence of this huge body of water literally metres from where I was working was imposing, but also a source of security during Covid. Meanwhile, it often felt like the whole world was figuratively living underwater during the pandemic. Now, it feels like I am able to resurface, along with the rest of the world.”

Ross was born and raised in Montreal and has lived in various parts of Canada. The son of a Mi’kmaw Indigenous mother and a Scottish immigrant father, he started working as a full-time musician in 1988. That year, he won the US National Fingerpick Guitar Championship for the first time (he’d win again in ’96) and played with his quartet Eye Music at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 2021, he won the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

Watch the video for Seabright above, sample more music from Don Ross below, and cruise over to his website, Facebook and Twitter.