So Guy is back with his fifth album, and yet again I am amazed at just how powerful his songs can be. If ever there was a modern songwriter and performer who was trying to pick up on the electric side of Richard Thompson then it has to be him, and opening song “Phase (The Open & The Widening Sky)” reinforces that idea. It is powerful and commercial, yet has a strong guitar line throughout just behind the vocals, or sometimes replacing them. But this album appears to be deeper, with more influences, more darkness, than before. Play the introduction to the title cut and you could be forgiven for wondering what on earth you were listening to, as many musical styles come together in a bazaar. But the guitar cuts through everything like a shining ray of light, before giving way to acoustic strumming and the feeling that Guy has turned his attention to one of our great eccentrics, Roy Harper. The keyboards are much more delicate at this point, with the focus very much on the vocals.
The major opus of the album is called simply “Suite:Dreams”, and is over twenty minutes long, which allows Guy to run through many emotions and styles. Possibly the most powerful is when he is just accompanied by piano and some seeping keyboards in the background. It may be simple, but is effective. This gives way to some lounge style noodlings before again being moved into something more dramatic and moving, almost as if the listener is bursting into the sunlight.
In some ways Guy is the least progressive act on Malcolm’s label, yet in others he is the most as he crosses boundaries and performs music that wouldn’t normally have that tag. Again this is a wonderful piece of work that I recommend whole heartedly.
Issue 78 – February 2004