Live From_Kegworth_Front_Cover_150Everything old is new again. And with Phil Keaggy, that's a very good thing! Live From Kegworth Studio certainly gives us a wonderful batch of classic Keaggy – songs that grow richer instead of older, played and sung by the master musician that first gave them to us.

Live From Kegworth Studio
Artist: Phil Keaggy
Strobie Records
13 tracks / 69:35 minutes

Some albums come out and you say, "Of course! This feels exactly right!" That's the case with Phil Keaggy's new release, Live From Kegworth Studio, a project that seems as if it's always been waiting in the ether, for Phil to get ready to play it into our reality. In theory, Live From Kegworth Studio has been played in concert innumerable times, since it's a collection of classic Phil Keaggy songs that he has, well – played many times to appreciative audiences. The main difference here is that those live solo Keaggy performances were unique, one-man-band renditions of previously recorded studio tracks. These amazing live performances – where Phil 'loops' guitar and vocal phrases to build layers of sound (effectively accompanying himself in a live context) – are well-loved but have never been collected into a CD package. Not until now – well, sort-of...

Live From Kegworth Studio is and isn't exactly a live album as we're used to live albums. The execution is the same that Phil uses in his live solo shows but there's no 'live' audience. In effect, it's a command performance for you, the listener at home (or in your car, or wherever). I suppose the question is, then why not just record and release a live solo acoustic show? The answer might be about song selection. The beauty of the live shows is Phil's ability to surprise, and his interplay with the moment – which may or may not preclude an old favorite or include an unusual choice that fits a particular venue. Whatever the reason, Live From Kegworth Studio certainly gives us a wonderful batch of classic Keaggy – songs that grow richer instead of older, played and sung by the master musician that first gave them to us.

It goes without saying that Phil's playing is impeccable and his vocals continue to delight – especially those of us that were, like Phil, brought up with The Beatles in our ears. Totally at home with his instrument, and using his on-board effects like a child playing with Christmas toys, Keaggy explores the possibilities of every melody, chord, and percussion effect that he can incorporate into a song. Phil uses a Line 64 DL4 delay modeler, which can create loops of up to 28 seconds (a 'loop' being a guitar phrase, for example, that Keaggy would repeat and then play along with, or on top of) and a Lexicon JamMan to build additional textures and layers. Building layer upon live layer of sound – even singing into his guitar's pick-ups – Phil breathes new life into such classics as "Your Love Broke Through," the anthemic "What A Day," and the breathtakingly beautiful "Let Everything Else Go."

Later works and live favorites like "True Believers," "Salvation Army Band," and the tour de force instrumental, "Shades of Green" get the in-concert treatments that have become familiar to Phil's many fans. Bob Dylan and George Harrison each get a respectful nod with fine versions of "To Make You Feel My Love" and "Here Comes the Sun."

Aside from the songs already mentioned, Phil does fine performances of "A Sign Came Through A Window," the reverent "Chalice," the instrumental "Legacy," "You Have My Heart," and the only track that was not created 'live' in the studio, "Give You a Song."

Certainly, this is an essential Phil Keaggy album, and one that clearly defines an important aspect of his career. If you haven't seen Phil Keaggy in solo performance, this will be a revelation – if you have, it will bring back wonderful memories. Either way, it's pure Keaggy, and that's good. Real good!

-Bert Saraco