British troubadour looks around to get a grip of existence and bend the reality to his will.
Exquisiteness always was part of this English singer-songwriter’s method, from his early records onwards, yet the veteran’s latter-day oeuvre has a fresh sort of gravity, gravitas even, to it. There’s no better example of such momentum-gaining approach than “Life, Life” which effortlessly flows from romantic to dramatic, from futuristic to traditional, from acidic to sublime within a single context woven by the ring of the artist’s acoustic strings and the philosophy of his stanzas. That’s what must make the music so compelling as to exude melodic aroma in small, albeit eventually intoxicating, doses.
Once the listener is pulled into this album’s drift, it’s quite difficult to pinpoint the exact instance when the translucent lines of the solstice-celebrating opener “Round The Stones” and pieces like “Wonderful Ride” or the jovial titular serenade, where Keith’s vocals sound so vigorous, turn to darker tones to shape the brisk “Travelling Blues” and highlight Christmas’ debt to the Delta idiom and Robert Johnson’s guitar prowess. The velveteen balladry of “Love In The Gold” can’t prepare one’s psyche for the change, but “Trouble, Trouble” will pick up the Scripture vibes and sprinkle them with searing sarcasm, while the singer’s fingers flutter over the frets, before “Who’s Going To Save You” pours a heart-tugging pity on poor mortals via the voice that’s full of empathy.
However, Keith exerts just the right amount of regret to the nostalgic “Ruled By The Tide” to color his memories, and shows no mercy for politicians in the angry “Born Of God” – taking a swipe at religion as well – until the lyrics and tune of captivating mini-epic “Book Of Magic” implore all the dreamers to join Christmas on his magical journey to eternity. There’s no remorse in the veteran’s casting a glance over his shoulder and locating some shadows in the past: it’s a free-will-driven life – a matter of which legacies are born. This album should seal it.