|Acoustic Guitar Review UK - April 2004 - The newsletter of www.acousticguitarworkshop.com|
What a beautiful album this is. Acoustica has an almost orchestral feel. Various guitar parts combine to create soundscapes that dazzle and uplift.
It's difficult to say where Acoustica is coming from musically, except to say it's a wonderful place, where ingenious compositions are wedded to solid guitar technique and tone.
Neither rock, nor jazz, neither folk, nor... I can only say Acoustica is an album not to be missed for lovers of the acoustic guitar
|Radio Io - from Zoe Montana to Adrian at Woronzow Records|
THANKS SO MUCH for sending this, love every selection, a true gem!
MORE! MORE! encore!zoe montana
radioio / ioMediaPartners, llc
|Modern Dance Magazine UK - November 2003|
This must be one of Woronzow's best releases? Just to fill you in, it's basically a straight ahead acoustic album written and performed by Keith Christmas.
Now I'd the first to say that Mr Christmas isn't exactly a name you may know too well when taking away the obvious references and associations to his last name! Anyone at all familiar with the music of Mike Hedges, the acoustic work of Mike Chapman and some of the more pastoral sections of classic Tull, you might be somewhere near these pieces.
Nine tracks in all, and for once a press release that doesn't exaggerate when it says it's gentle, moving, haunting, strange and a work of high quality.
Unassuming pieces glide from the speakers with such authority - this is a beautiful album.
Short review maybe, but there's nothing else to say other than you really ought to check it out if you enjoy first class acoustic guitar music.DW
|Puls Magazine Norway - August 2003|
Keith Christmas was a total stranger to me. After reading quite a bit about this english guitar player, and, after listening to his acoustic solo-trip, i realize that we`re dealing with a gentleman with a long history behind, and abilities with the guitar that not many others can do after him.
Those of us who have lived for while and remember back to the seventees, might possibly remember him from releasing a cople of criticly acclaimed records back then. Later on he has worked with huge names such as The Who, Frank Zappa and King Crimson. Besides his singer/songwriter work, and the jobs for these legendary groups, he has all the time been working to develop his acoustic guitar technique, and "Acoustica" is in many ways his masterpiece.
"Acoustica" is nothing else but Keith Christmas and his guitar(s). Behind it lies years of training and `cuddling` with the guitar, and Christmas is without doubt a very personal and extremely good guitarplayer.
He has written all the music himself, and that`s really the only way it could`ve been done. The reason is that Christmas over the years has developed a very personal language, which suites his own music best - this is no standard jazz-language.
It sounds open and airfilled, and has elements of blues, folk, rock, and a little dose of jazz in it - for the most part, the two first mentioned. Christmas is an experienced guy who knows how to take the time - he`s not in a hurry, which makes his musical fabels create a beautiful, intence and relaxing mood.
Keith Christmas has reached a place in his carriere where he has nothing left to prove. His only aim is to make good and personal music together with his closest friend, the acoustic guitar - just what he has done on "Acoustica".
Reviewed by one of the best known jazz-journalists in Norway (who also works for the national TV-station)
|Zoopa Loop France - July 2003|
Is "Acoustica" a sort of tribute to early blues kings whom looked at life in a very realistic way ? It's obviousliy not the case, besides the folk influences are far more consistent giving few tracks some appearences of impressionism inspired paintings ( "Opening out", "Easy", "Floating").
The finer aspects of Keith's playing bring out his talents to write some light melodies full of pastoral sensations ( "Easy", "Inside out", "Ascension", "Awakening" ). Beyond this main theme which sets the tone of most of these instrumental pieces, some of them are studded with some bluesy accents either in the shape of light slide guitar lines as during the well named "Sliding" or of harmonies stamped with a refined style of sadness beloved of artists such as Mississippi John Hurt or Memphis Slim ( "Dancing", "Coolbox").
Moreover the contrast between the freshness and the enlivening atmosphere of certain numbers ( "Awakening", "Inside out" ) and this underlying rawness is really startling as if the veil of purity and innocence which wraps the tracks was simply crumbling here and there ( "Ascension", "Floating" ).
Torn between maturity and a youthful frame of mind, Keith Christmas has succeeded to bring together passion, emotions and freedom into a genre of acoustic poetry where the tunes have simply taken the place of the words.
Absolutely brilliant.Reviewed by Renaud Rigart
|Free City Magazine USA - June 2003|
Acoustic guitar music is not one of my main areas of interest but I always trust the Woronzow label to point me in the right direction.
Keith Christmas is a legendary name in British blues/folk and his background includes work with David Bowie, King Crimson, The Who, and Frank Zappa. His new solo album Acoustica turns out to be one of my favorites of the year so far in spite of my general preference for electric psychedelic rock.
From the opening spirals of finger picking on "Dancing" through the mellow shuffle of "Inside Out", Christmas' guitar playing is extremely compelling. I won't go through an attempt at a track-by-track rundown of this instrumental acoustic guitar CD since the pieces run together in a larger cycle.
It's all quite haunting, the kind of music that merits close attention but encourages the listener's mind to wander. The style is not really folk, not as strictly structured as blues, and certainly not new age. I guess it would be fair to say that these songs are like adventurous rock music paraphrased into an acoustic setting.
Acoustica is highly recommended both to fans of acoustic guitar music and to rockers in search of a chill-out CD that maintains credibility and avoids getting sappy. Excellent stuff work for working, driving or deep zoning. Nick Saloman and Ade Shaw at Woronzow again show their special ability to make a case for the talents of someone we might have missed the first time around. Learn more at www.woronzow.co.uk.
Review 2003 by Nick Bensen.
|Rockerilla Italy - June 2003|
Several times praised for rediscovering glorious protagonists of a much too quickly forgotten past, Woronzow take now the merit of bringing back to our attention Keith Christmas, a singular folk singer who signed at least six solo albums between 1969 and 1976 besides acting in the context of disparate collaborations such as the one with Bowie for 'Space Oddity' and with the Magic Muscle for 'The Pipe, The Roar, The Grid'.
Much more gifted as an instrumentalist than as a singer, Keith bets all of his fiches on the right number concocting the best solo finger picking guitar album of the last years, at least since Ralph Towner's 'Ana' or Clive Carroll's debut.
Since the initial 'Dancing', a full and reverberated guitar sound emerges, with an almost orchestral flourish, wherein the dance of the title is inserted in the English folk tradition hybridised with echoes of blues, according to the lesson of Davey Graham's and John Renbourn's classics.
Blues rushes in elsewhere in a more explicit fashion ('Coolbox'), and other transatlantic suggestions can be detected, for instance in the Ry Cooder-tinged 'Sliding', while 'Easy' - whose irresistible refrain bears as well a Renbourn reminiscence - or 'Ascension' distillate sterling melodies with the unmistakable accent of the British Isles.
Keith Christmas delivers his melodies unconcerned of displaying his technique that sounds lavish and overwhelming, although free of baroque frills and always directed to essential and crystalline musical ideas: 'Acoustica' will neither fail to delight the instrument aficionados, nor to surprise the few who remember his old works.
|High Bias Magazine USA - May 2003|
British musician Keith Christmas is best known in the U.K. as a singer/songwriter and leader of the blues band the Weathermen. (He also played on David Bowie's Space Oddity album). Acoustica is only his eighth solo album since 1969, and his first instrumental record.
A nimble, lyrical fingerpicker, Christmas fills this CD with acoustic guitar pieces that have strong melodic backbones and busy arrangements. Christmas eschews the solo purist approach, overdubbing his six-strings into intricate webs of sound.
Multi-layered cuts like "Floating," "Dancing" and "Easy" blend virtuosity and accessibility in a way few instrumental albums do these days; the rhythmic "Inside Out" and the slide-driven "Sliding" are even better.
Christmas may not be concentrating on his singer/songwriter side much anymore, but Acoustica indicates that he's got a bright future as an instrumentalist.
For fans of: Leo Kottke, Adrian Legg, Richard Leo Johnson
|Venue magazine UK - April 2003|
Keith Christmas is best known as a singer/songwriter, and while his guitar playing has always been top-notch, it's also seemed to take second place to his lyrics, so it's a little surprising to find him releasing an album of acoustic guitar tunes.
'Acoustica' consists of nine fairly long pieces of quite superb playing and studio gimmicks kept to a minimum.
Although you can identify apparent influences such as Bert Jansch or John Renbourn, it's probably worth remembering that Keith has been around a long time and almost certainly picked up influences from the same original source as Jansch and Renbourn in the first place.
Imagine Gordon Giltrap's work with a more rootsy feel, plus the influences stated above - then add Keith's excellent musicianship.
Acoustica' is a quite exceptional piece of work.
|www.fakejazz.com March 21 2003|
(cut for brevity)....................So now that we've discussed Christmas' background, let's tell you a bit about this marvellous release.
Christmas' playing is a bit more aggressive and rocking than other artists releasing this style of material, so think more in terms of Vini (Durutti Column) Reilly and Richard Thompson and less Jansch, Renborne and Graham.
The songs are all uniformly great, particularly the Hawaiian/Calypso groove of "Easy" and the happy-go-lucky, strolling minstrel vibe of "Awakening;" from the finger lickin', chicken pickin' of "Sliding" and the hesitant, staring-into-the-campfire melancholia of "Ascension" right on up to the toe-tappin', finger poppin finale, "Inside Out."
|From a Finnish website - March 2003|
Keith Christmas is a unique singer/songwriter who released a bunch of albums in the late 60's and 70's. A couple of them also included Woronzow Records' Adrian Shaw on bass. Now Keith is back with a whole new instrumental CD played with only acoustic guitars.
This might sound a bit alarming to some, but this is high quality stuff. He's a very talented acoustic guitar player, and his compositions are gentle and interesting. Keith has written, produced and mixed all the tracks by himself. The CD sounds very airy and crispy; top notch producing.
There are, luckily for us, also some nice psychedelic effects on the guitars at times, to give this album more variety. I'm not sure how to describe the music, but I guess it's somewhat progressive, but having its roots in blues ('Coolbox' in particular). It also has this enlightening, New Age vibration.
This is very good music for relaxation, maybe after a hard day's work, or just after waking up on a lazy Sunday morning.
Even though this is not the kind of music I listen that much, I've grown to like this album a lot.
Here are some track titles to give you some idea: 'Easy', 'Awakening', 'Sliding', 'Ascension', 'Floating'. And these are very descriptive. Again, check www.woronzow.co.uk for details and samples.
|Dream Magazine #4 - march 2003|
Nine acoustic guitar reveries spread of three quarters of an hour.
Keith has been around the UK scene since the '60s, he played on Bowie's "Space Oddity" album, and has appeared on same bills as folks like Marc Bolan, The Who, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, and Captain Beefheart.
Here he offers us nine sparkling clear fluid instrumental guitar extrapolations that blend elements of folk, and jazz with deep blues underpinnings.
His style here is sort of Bert Jansch meets Fred Neil, with both describing sunlight, the play of waves, or wind across a meadow.
A consistently soothing and dreamy listening experience, that's as close to a new age record as Woronzow is ever likely to come; but don't let that scare you away.
|AAM MAgazine Italy - April 2003|
L´eclettismo della storica etichetta inglese ha il merito di riesumare talenti digeriti troppo in fretta, come quello del virtuoso folkwriter Keith Christmas, autore di alcuni tra i più importanti albums di country desert americano (nonostante la composta postura da buon britishman, dedito allo studio dei compagni di ventura Renbourn o Towner) degli anni a cavallo tra i ´60 ed i ´70.
Nel merito siamo al cospetto di uno strepitoso virtuosismo fingerpicking, mai lezioso o tecnicisticamente sterili, bensì ibrido del miglior blues bianco, del folk alieno e delle floreali partiture di certa West Coast "minore".
Ry Cooder aleggia in "Sliding", Ben Harper in "Floating" e, sebbene la partitura sudamericana potrebbe inficiare alcune scivolate arie di "Opening out", il barocco incedere del rigoglioso background del musicista viene disinnescato dall´adamantina delizia del tocco e dall´inconfondibile accento, dall´illuminato equilibrio di riverberi umbratili, sconfinamenti melodici dalla bellezza paralizzante, amalgamati dalla crema squisita della classicità.
Uno spirito testardo ed inquieto si muove all´interno dell´album, esplorando assi cartesiani che il violino sempre protagonista riverbera di bellezza desolata.
Ogni traccia langue tra gioia, emozione, meraviglia, disperazione ed ogni singola nota porta più dolore e felicità di quanto un intero album della maggior parte degli artisti possa anche solo provare a fare.
Dedicato a Frank Zappa, quantunque Keith ne faccia mistero.
|NOIZE ITALIA Italy - March 2003|
|A refined and relaxing disc this " Acoustica ". In two words, pure magic...|
Periodo di uscite fuori dai soliti canoni per la Woronzow Records. Dopo il cantautore rock Anton Barbeau è la volta di un disco completamente strumentale e, cosa ancora più particolare, totalmente acustico.
L'autore è Keith Christmas, nome poco noto ai più ma ormai nel giro musicale dai lontani anni '60. Infatti è proprio del 1969 la sua prima uscita discografica ('Stimulus'), preludio di altri quattro dischi editi durante tutto l'arco degli anni '70.
Tuttavia l'importanza di Christmas è da attribuire alle innumerevoli collaborazioni con personaggi che hanno scritto la storia del rock: tour in supporto di King Crimson, The Who, Ten Years After, Frank Zappa e Roxy Music, l'apparizione al primo Festival di Glastonbury e la partecipazione al mitico 'Space oddity' di David Bowie (sono sue le parti di chitarra acustica) non sono certo cose da tutti i giorni!
Dopo una lunga pausa durante gli anni '80 e il ritorno durante i '90 con due uscite (la prima con la blues band Weatherman, la seconda da solista), eccolo oggi tornare di nuovo in pista con questo 'Acoustica'. La scelta è di quelle coraggiose: quasi cinquanta minuti di sole chitarre acustiche che tratteggiano scenari ora coinvolgenti ora rilassanti. Un scommessa senza dubbio vinta, vista l'elevata caratura tecnica esibita nelle nove composizioni e soprattutto considerata la bravura di Christmas nel saper accostare fraseggi classici e atmosfere distese.
Le musiche evocano alla perfezione i titoli dei brani: esempi lampanti ne sono le agitate movenza dell'iniziale 'Dancing', le eteree ed avvolgenti spirali di 'Awakening', le ascendenze di matrice blues di 'Sliding' e 'Coolbox' o i liquidi tratteggi di 'Floating'. Non c'è una nota fuori posto, il fluire della musica ipnotizza e non corre mai il rischio di annoiare, anzi, lascia attoniti di fronte a tanto splendore.
Un disco raffinato e rilassante questo 'Acoustica'. L'ascolto richiede di uscire per un attimo dai soliti schemi e di aprire la mente ad un viaggio sulle corde di una chitarra che trasporta indietro nel tempo. In due sole parole, pura magia!
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