If a gift is something unexpected that makes you happy even before you start unwrapping it, then Field Day is truly a gift. Anthony Phillips' first solo guitar album since Twelve (could it really have been that long?), this two-plus-hour, two-CD set features the man getting back to what he does best: weaving delicate melodies and intricate arrangements out of wood and strings. After the years Phillips spent in rather anonymous library music, this return to the warmth and expressiveness of the guitar will be saluted by fans. Field Day delivers 61 pieces, most of them under two minutes, a few in the four-minute range, and a couple of escaped runners clocking in over eight. Phillips plays a variety of acoustic guitars, from classical to 12-string and the traditional-sounding bouzouki, cittern, and charanga. There is even a single mandolin piece. Composition-wise, the man's music has grown slightly simpler with the years. Short pieces develop a single melody elegantly, applying virtuosity to keep things at an immediate level. Longer tracks come closer to the exuberance of the material found on earlier albums like Twelve and the first two Private Parts & Pieces, with special mentions going to "Concerto de Alvarez" and "To the Lighthouse," both highlights. Then again, Phillips' instrumental music has never been completely about complexity or virtuosity. His art resides in his deceptively simple, unmistakably catchy, repeatedly beautiful melodies. And Field Day has scores of them to offer, making this album a highly successful return to essentials.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2