Phil Keaggy


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The a cappella harmonies that open the first song on this collaborative effort from three of CCM's best guitarists (Phil Keaggy, Wes King and Scott Dente from Out of the Grey) dispels any ideas that this is a showcase for guitar technique. Instead, the four vocal and seven instrumental pieces demonstrate that great musicianship involves songwriting and arrangements as well as playing ability. From the opening rock-shuffle of "Watch My Back" to the Keaggy-pop of "River of Life" to the Hungarian surf music of "Budapest Control," the song and its development is always the focus. "53 Days in June" is a perfect example of this, beginning with a simple four-note riff and gradually becoming a fully realized piece full of tapping, bends and harmonics. The arrangements are astonishing in that, although as many as six guitars may be heard on a single song, the sound is never cluttered or overwhelming. With the exception of the solo Keaggy showcase "The Quote Jester," this collaboration demonstrates that musicianship is less about pyrotechnics and more about playing in service to the song. (Fans who are more concerned with sheer technique can listen to "The Moors of Bellevue," a simple rock progression that allows each player to strut his stuff -- probably the weakest cut on the album.)

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