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Phil Keaggy - Phil Keaggy

Review by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM)

Whenever word gets out that a new Phil Keaggy project is about to hit the shelves, the first thing I think is: "What's it gonna be this time, Phil?" Ask that question of this project, and one might be surprised.

Indeed Keaggy, who is renowned within both the Christian and mainstream markets for his guitar playing prowess, has traveled many different musical paths from soft acoustic instrumentals to Beatles-esque pop/rock and electrifying lead guitar antics. The name Phil Keaggy on a disc, it seems, can mean different things to different people. On his new self-titled project, one will happily encounter a sampling of many of Keaggy's personas.

Phil Keaggy is perhaps Keaggy's most well-rounded project to date. The opening track, "A Sign Came Through A Window" is a smoothly rocking acoustic/electric combination that sets the tone for the entire album. While Keaggy has, in the past, released primarily either acoustic or electric projects, Phil Keaggy actually seems to find a comfortable balance between the two guitar mediums from the get go.

Another common stylistic element in recent Keaggy recordings is the Celtic factor, which is explored no less than twice on this outing in such songs as The Continual Burnt Offering inspired "Under The Blood-Stained Lintel" and "Above All Things." If the Beatles-inspired Keaggy is more your cup of tea, you will find those McCartney-like elements within "Tender Love," "Quite Suddenly," "Days Like You" and "Under The Grace." If you like to spend your time checking out and analyzing the latest Keaggy lead guitar licks, you'll be wearing out "My Unspoken Words," "Chase The Bad Away," as well as the aforementioned "A Sign Came Through A Window" and "Days Like You" on your copy of Phil Keaggy.

There are also several ballads included in the mix as well. In fact, the longest song on the project is also the most tender. The final track, "Jesus Loves The Church" speaks of all of the things we sinners do to each other, sometimes even in God's name, and yet we are still loved by Jesus. One listen to this haunting bit of truth set to music is worth the price of admission alone.

Keaggy's voice, which is often absent on some of his other projects, is in rare form on this one. Perhaps the finest vocal recording he has done in years, surpassing even his landmark 1995 project, True Believer, Keaggy shines as the lead vocalist and his presence can be heard as the primary background vocalist on most of the album's eleven tracks.

So, to sum it all up, Phil Keaggy is the Phil Keaggy fan's project. Nearly every aspect of Keaggy's diverse musical background can be found nestled together in this surprising vocal project. There are acoustic and electric guitars merging together. There are traces of Celtic influence as well as little morsels of modern rock to whet the taste buds. Indeed, Mr. Keaggy has taken the opportunity he was given with this project to prove that his music is very much like a bottle of fine wine: After nearly thirty years, it only gets better with time.


Related Information

For a year or so I was a CD reviewer for The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM) where this review was originally published.

- Paul M. Carhart


  © 1998 Paul M. Carhart, all rights reserved, all media.