ZZCD 9814 – Undiminished
Rock n Reel
Chris Conway is an immensely talented singer-songwriter, US-born but UK resident these past few years. His is an attractive and immediate style, deceptively simple and described on the cover of his re-released debut collection, ‘Sounds Like Rain’, as a blend of US West Coast harmonies with Celtic folk roots, world music and jazz influences. How many times have we
heard that before, in these days of blurring musical boundaries?
In this case, happily, it all amounts to something really quite special. Clearly Conway is a songwriter, arranger and performer of considerable ambition, vision and ability. Some of you will know him from his work with the Vikki Clayton Band and his Cropredy appearances. He has a good voice, full of warmth and easy on the ear, which suits the material well, and the
collection of songs which make up ‘Sounds Like Rain’ are consistently strong and intelligently worked.
Melody and harmony are significant elements in the overall mix and Conway wears his heart on his sleeve, lyrically. A wide variety of instruments played by Chris himself, with assistance from several other quality players, results in a multi-layered and wonderfully textured sound throughout.
There’s a subtle yet persistent 70s feel to the whole affair, though it was recorded in 1995 and, remastered since, the sound constantly sparkles and song arrangements are never plodding. Personally, I found that lingering 70s aspect strangely satisfying and it works well as part of the overall mix of sounds and styles. Song lyrics and the bearded, behatted chap in the CD booklet photo confirm suspicions that Conway’s perhaps a bit of an old hippie, but very much the latest model, rather than some time-warp-stranded cliché-spouting anachronism.
A very polished collection, Conway’s debut ought to have reached a far wider audience than it presumably did originally, and this time around, perhaps it will, for it’s excellent stuff throughout and comes complete with three bonus tracks to clinch the deal.
By Flibbert J. Goosty http://www.allaboutjazz.com
Sounds Like Rain is the newly re-mastered CD re-issue of a fine debut record by singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Conway. It appears from the liner notes that Conway is based in Europe, and has recorded several CD’s under his own name. In addition to leading his own bands, Conway has worked with members of Jethro Tull, Farport Convention, and Vikki Clayton. For this CD, it appears that Conway is working in the non-real time format to produce layered harmonies and melodies, both vocally and instrumentally, that are quite pleasing to listen to. The pretty melodies and swaying rhythms incorporate a wide range of influences from rock, to celtic, to world music. All the pieces on this disc have a strong sense of rhythm and purpose, and Conway’s soothing chord voicings on the guitar add greatly to the overall harmonic intrigue of this fine collection of songs.
As well as composing all the songs in this set, Conway sings and plays a wide variety of instruments; including a 9-string guitar, and a kalimba. These instruments help to create a sea of sound; it’s tide taking you further and further out, body and mind floating towards the red horizon. If you like great contemporary music of the singer-songwriter genre, or if you’ve just recently fallen in love, this CD is definitely worth the listen.
Track Listing: Silver Rain/Gwezen an Avalou’; Endless Night; Inside Out; Earth Child; Tomorrow Lives Again; Stormy Point; Who Pays The Price; The Long Way; Received Wisdom; Minute Of The Hour; Chasing Rainbows/Rainbow Reel/Rainbows End; River Blue; Nova Scotia; The Old Road; Better Times In Sight
Personnel: Chris Conway(vocals,acoustic & electric 9 string guitars, keyboards, tin & low D whistles,bamboo flute,sampled drums,programming,kalimba,percussion); Simon Styring(electric & classical guitars, harmony vocals); Neil Segrott(bass,electric & Classical guitar,harmony vocals); Dan Britton(acoustic guitar,harmony vocals); Dave Everitt(acoustic guitar, harmony vocals); Carl Peberdy(sitar,tabla); Derek Roberts(acoustic guitar); Roger Pugh(mandola,harmony vocals)
Review: “Sounds Like Rain” is a CD that grows on you with its blend of contemporary jazz sounds of the US West Coast alongside Celtic folk roots and world music influences. A 15 selection CD that showcases Chris Conway’s gifts as composer and musician.
Chris Conway does vocals in addition to performing on keyboards, guitars, flute and other instruments, and he is joined by musicians Simon Styring on guitars, Neil Segrott on bass and guitars, Dan Britton on bodhran and guitars, Dave Everitt on acoustic guitar, Carl Peberdy on sitar and tabla, Derek Roberts on acoustic guitar, and Roger Pugh on mandola. There is a
sharing of harmony vocals between the musicians. Each musician gives an outstanding performance, and the musicians work together in top-notch harmony and shared production values. This CD has very, very high production values, which are evident in every selection given for listening pleasure and enjoyment!
I found each selection perfect in its own way, and it would be difficult to pick from this excellent grouping as to favorites for listening! “Silver Rain” is a great, uncompromising, straight-forward song, and well worth listening to several times. Other songs on this CD are “Earth Child,” “Stormy Point,” “River Blue,” “Nova Scotia,” “The Old Road,” and “Better Times in Sight.”
Chris Conway’s warm, soulful voice adds depth to the lyrics, as does his performances on various instruments! This CD is a winner in all aspects, and one you will want in your home library or as a special gift for a friend, or both! The very top rating for Chris Conway’s “Sounds Like Rain.” Excellent!
Rating: Five Stars
Reviewed by: Lee Prosser