Si Hayden – Don’t Fret – Album Review

Si Hayden Don't Fret

Si Hayden is from Coventry, UK and recorded his first solo album in 1998. Since then, he has produced many recordings of guitar music exploring jazz, folk, rock and blues forms. In 2012 he released Don’t Fret, a ground-breaking adventure using a fretless acoustic guitar. He has also composed music for Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and BBC Radio Four.


All songs Composed and performed by Si Hayden
Recorded at Bungalow Studios, UK – March 2012
Cover artwork / photography – Sarah Goodacre
Silvery Records – 885767011649


1. The Ball On Fool Hill
2. Coasting
3. Ladysmith Groove
4. Low Bee
5. Clowns At War
6. Birdy
7. Soweto Groove
8. A Perfectly Reasonable Reason
9. Wingin’ It Again
10. Ride
11. Fretless Hypnosis
12. Valley of a Thousand Hills


Si Hayden is already a well established guitarist having released 30 plus albums and performed on over 70 albums and guitar compilations.

What sets this compilation apart is that all songs are recorded in a single take, with no overdubbing. Everything is played on a Fretless Acoustic Guitar with Steel Strings as can be seen in this video:

Si playing track 1 off the album “The Ball On Fool Hill”

You can see Si’s mastery of the instrument is very well controlled yet rapid on the opening track “The Ball On Fool Hill” which gives way to a more relaxed track “Coasting”. “Ladysmith Groove” includes a lovely percussive effect to provide groove and ends with a slide harmonic – you cannot do that unless your guitar is fretless!

“Low Bee” is a cool almost drone type number. “Clowns at War” has an Arabic feel to the sound and is more modal than chordal and has a nice dark feel. On to track 6 “Birdy” very much more upbeat with a fresh feel some nice occasional microtones in there. “Soweto Groove” I already know as it appeared on Si’s Album “The Apparent Rules of Thumb” like track 3 (Ladysmith Groove) its got that African rhythm feel to it.

“A Perfectly Reasonable Reason” goes back to the darker modal playing taking advantage of the microtonal side of fretless guitar, showing a great feel for alternate scales and Makams.

“Wingin’ it Again” is hard to pin down, nice and percussive though with variable rhythms. “Ride” is more chordal and shows off nice right hand technique.

Si Playing Track 2 off the album “Coasting”

“Fretless Hypnosis” is just that – hypnotic great example of two threads mingling in a single piece of music, the album finishes off with “Valley of One Thousand Hills” has a very English feel and rounds off a very impressive album.

I do hope Si makes more fretless music, this is a great CD.

Review – Jahloon – December 2015


Si Hayden

Silvery Records

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