The success of Chris Standring’s groundbreaking 2010 CD Blue Bolero, which topped several year-end lists and produced a No. 1 single, made it a tough act for the guitarist to follow. But Standring has managed quite nicely with Electric Wonderland, his brand new 10-song CD of original songs that fuses elements of Blue Bolero’s orchestral touches with a deft jazz-pop touch that’s been a hallmark of Standring’s stellar career.
“I feel like it’s an extension of Blue Bolero, but a bit more playful and upbeat,” says Standring. “It also came out much dreamier. And of course I’m playing electric guitar, so I wanted to merge the two when naming the CD.”
On Electric Wonderland, Standring’s longtime fans, as well as guitar aficionados, may recognize that he’s doing two new things here. The first is that, in keeping with the CD’s title, he’s traded his archtop jazz guitar — which imparts a much more acoustic sound — for a Fender Stratocaster, whose strings and solid-body infuses his music with a more expressive sound. “The Fender Strat guitar gives you an electric quality,” Standring says. “Because I’m a jazz player, I wanted to get a jazz sound out of that instrument, but to be expressive in the way a rock guitarist might, such as with bending the strings.”
The other thing Standring did on Electric Wonderland was to throw away his pick, for the most part. This leads to a difference in tone and an enhanced personal and intimate experience for the listener. “I went through a phase where I didn’t enjoy hearing myself play with a pick. It got in the way in what I was trying to express. When I put it down and played with my fingers and listened back to it, it felt more musical, much more intimate. I found myself gravitating more to that sound. It’s also how I’m playing live now.”