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CHRIS CONWAY - "Earth Rising" A New Day ANDCD33 -
CHRIS CONWAY "Sounds Like Rain"
Zah Zzcd 9814

Chris Conway hails from the USA but I think he has been resident in England for some time now. The list of people who have worked with him includes Vikki Clayton, Jo Freya, members of Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention and Jazz Orient - as well as leading world musicians including Dr. L. Sunramanium and Talvin Singh. He's played many of the large festivals and had some media exposure. I mention this just to give some idea of the diversity of Chris's influences and music.

These two albums are very different in feel, atmosphere and content. Earth Rising is, I suppose, what is called a concept album - whatever that means. It's his fourth and pretty good it is too, although on first listening I found it much too complicated to understand. Perseverance and repeated plays though have paid off as I find the curious mixture of sounds somehow hypnotic. Celtic flutes interweave with Indian vocals and Irish bodhran. Irish reels mix with ethnic vocals or Chris's delicate voice. Electric and acoustic guitars mix seamlessly but that's only the surface. He has obviously called in a few favours as the list of guests runs to nearly thirty!!! For me this is one of the more interesting albums I've heard for some time, as each some is packed with comment and meaning. Definitely worth a listen.

It's a pity that "Sounds Like Rain" has been released at the same time as it is a bit overshadowed. This is his first album of solo songs and is pretty good, but for me fails to reach the heights of "Earth Rising". There are some great songs such as Silver Rain and Received Wisdom, and many of the influences mentioned earlier can be found here. There's even a bluesy offering in "Minute of the Hour". Good but......

Finally about Chris himself. Let's just say that the tag multi-instrumentalist is one of the great understatements. The list is nearly as long as the guest list on "Earth Rising".

Well worth a listen.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 38 of The Living Tradition magazine.