Rock n Reel Magazine
vivid, articulate and moving.
Its themes of gathering, celebration and departure are delivered in a kaleidoscopic patchwork-quilt of sounds, vivid, articulate and moving.
If Conway's debut album was an assured artistic statement, then 'Earth Rising' is supremely confident music making.
It's to his credit that despite the scale of his ambition, embracing a variety of fashionable and less-fashionable styles - Celtic roots, rock, pop, eastern drones, an ecologically aware singer-songwriter's concerns for his home planet - the sheer class of his arrangements, and the performances from Conway and his numerous guests (including Vikki Clayton, Sally Barker, Clive Bunker, Jodi Krangle and Dan Britton) results in a sound which is nothing less than exhilarating. It's no mean achievement, for such a musical potpourri can all too easily fall flat.
Conway's vocal is the thread which connects all the contrasting styles and moods, though the variety is consistently complementary. There are some glorious harmonies, thought-provoking lyrics and plenty of impeccable playing. A splendid collection which hits the spot, time and time again. Dave White
Traditional Music Maker
I cannot tire of hearing it.
Now and again, a CD comes along that just seems to ‘fit’ into whatever groove you’re into at that time. That feeling depends upon a wide range of variables all coinciding at the same point in time, space, mind, or wherever. For this reason, such an experience is very unusual, and the moment must be relished and savoured. This is an exceptional record.
The music fits such a range of moods, emotions and settings that it is impossible to categorise - and why should we want to? The overall feel of the music is so positive in its general outlook and perspective on life that so far, I cannot tire of hearing it.
Chris Conway has succeeded in creating a record that is inspirational and complete and I would recommend it to any-one who has a taste for quality music. Conway plays a multitude of instruments himself, including guitars, keyboards, tin whistles, zithers and bamboo flute. He is ably backed by a talented array of musicians and vocalists, including Roger Wilson, Vikki Clayton and Clive Bunker. The resultant sound is one which is full and yet is not cluttered or overbearing in any way. Conway, who also produced the record, has managed to concoct a fine balance between making a CD which is eminently listenable and yet challenging enough to be thought-provoking.
Conway’s material, which is almost all self-penned, shows a diversity and sensitivity which adds to the experience. There are mystical and spiritual influences, alongside songs about nature, and a critique of modern city life.
Highlights for me are ‘Age of Miracles’ - which sets the achievements of the human race against the needs of those who do not share in the fruits of that progress, and ‘Before I Go’ - which has the line: ‘And I don’t know if it’s worth talking anymore, when we can read each other’s minds...’
But it is Conway’s love songs which are the most touching. ‘A Little Bit of Loving’ is sung from the heart and benefits from a simple delivery - with vocals by Conway and Jodi Krangle, accompanied only by Conway’s piano (Just a smile, would tear down the wall....). ‘Love on the Run’ is a song which gives some hope to lovers everywhere - ‘Let me know that you need me, but don’t ever tell me why...’
Chris Conway deserves to achieve considerable success with Earth Rising. The problem is, that set against the insipid bulk of current musical outpouring, it is just too good. It will probably fail to be noticed because it does not form part of that mass-produced, and yet utterly marketable mediocrity that all too often passes for musical talent. Let’s hope I’m totally wrong.
- David Wardle
Living Tradition Magazine
One of the more interesting albums I've heard for some time
Chris Conway hails from the USA but I think he has been resident in England for some time now. The list of people who have worked with him includes Vikki Clayton, Jo Freya, members of Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention and Jazz Orient - as well as leading world musicians including Dr. L. Sunramanium and Talvin Singh.
He's played many of the large festivals and had some media exposure. I mention this just to give some idea of the diversity of Chris's influences and music.
Earth Rising is, I suppose, what is called a concept album - whatever that means. It's his fourth and pretty good it is too, although on first listening I found it much too complicated to understand. Perseverance and repeated plays though have paid off as I find the curious mixture of sounds somehow hypnotic. Celtic flutes interweave with Indian vocals and Irish bodhran. Irish reels mix with ethnic vocals or Chris's delicate voice. Electric and acoustic guitars mix seamlessly but that's only the surface. He has obviously called in a few favours as the list of guests runs to nearly thirty!!! For me this is one of the more interesting albums I've heard for some time, as each some is packed with comment and meaning. Definitely worth a listen.
Finally about Chris himself. Let's just say that the tag multi-instrumentalist is one of the great understatements. The list is nearly as long as the guest list on "Earth Rising". Well worth a listen.
Sounds Alive Magazine
Macliammóir's "Album of the Year"
I was recently standing at the bar during a Chris Conway and Dan Britton pub gig in the wet and mysterious borderlands of Northamptonshire, when the landlady came up to me and said "Why aren't these boys famous?" (boys indeed!) Well, after now listening to this latest album of Chris's on many occasions and in numerous situations and frames of mind, I can honestly say that in an enlightened world, it should bring both fame and, yes, perhaps even a little fortune for the BOY!
So, is it really that good? I would say so, in fact, I would say even better! I would say it's seminal. As in fresh, new, different, innovative, the music ejaculates out of the hifi, provoking, inspiring, pre-empting thoughts and feelings about things in general and life, magic and love in particular. Sounds too new-agey? Not a bit of it! It works on every level. I shall explain.
The title - Earth Rising - and the album cover itself tantalises and invokes Celtic mystery, brooding anticipation. Open the cover and discover the cast of thousands providing the musical support (well about 30 or so) - Dan Britton, Roger Wilson, Sally Barker, Vikki Clayton, Simon Styring, Zorpinda Zorpin (!) to name but several, top notch musicians you may have heard of already. And then others, like Debbie Robinson, James Lee Stanley and Jodi Krangle, top notch vocalists you will hear about soon I declare.
The first track sets the scene -
Life, Magic & Love. An ascending modal arpeggio leads into a craftily structured composition beautifully punctuated by Roger Wilson's understated violin ……. and an inventive lyric hinting deeper themes of shamanism and neophytic conversion.
City Breakdown starts with what sounds like a jew's harp (no attribution for it) coupled with a Kalimba - how's that for innovation? Dan's bodhrán backing and Chris's low D whistling conjures up neo-Afro/Celtic nuances addressing issues of social degradation and homelessness - powerful words set against a strident melody.
Age of Miracles, my favourite track - the chorus line is taken from a science fiction short story - is a classy thought-provoking ballad with truly beautiful underpinning classical guitar accompaniment and awe-inspiring harmonies from James Lee Stanley. You will play this and weep!
Premonition pre-empts the final track, Going - a pint to the first person who can explain the conundrum contained therein. (Conway excluded, of course)
To the Four Winds gets the full Celtic treatment with lots of female 'arr-ing' and 'ohh-ing' a la Clannád, together with an almost Arabic middle eight chant and electrical storm special effects that had me reaching for my Barbour jacket! Lucid lyric with hidden allegory, English weather and Celtic charm - what a combination!
A Little Bit of Loving, a big busty ballad introducing a luscious new voice that you would die for, (Jodi Krangle's) really hits the spot. If her voice could be bottled you would rub it in every night to ease all the aches and pains!
Surprisingly, Earth Rising, an amalgam of traditional Irish whistle tunes and Conway originals is my least favourite, simply because I miss Chris's thought-provoking lyrics - but then, you can't be using your brainbox all the time 'cus it hurts! Yet maybe a clue to the conundrum lies within the sub-title?
Run by You left me lukewarm the first time of listening, but as is often the mark of a great song, it has become one of my favourites. And one of the reasons is the great, wondrous harmonic voice of Debbie Robinson - she's around Leicester at the moment, so look out for her.
For me, Love on the Run is made monumental by Chris's cracking guitar solo and Vikki Clayton's haunting backing vocal, but listen carefully to another great thematic lyric.
Wherever will make your hair stand on end, especially when you know that it is dedicated to the memory of Chris's father. This song says it with elegance and unfettered emotion for all departed dads of the world. It must stand alone as the greatest anthem to fatherhood - ever, ever ……. ever!
If The Real You was recorded directly after Wherever, it would explain Chris's rather tight constricted voice on this one, which has echoes of a sixty's hit you may remember. (I do, so I couldn't have been there!)
Gathering of the Kindred Spirits is 'cosmic man' and you'd expect it with the likes of Zorpinda Zorpin singing a cappella!
Blueprints/Preparing for Departure is another driving ballad punctuated by sighing female harmonies that somehow remind me of the Bangles - remember them? And finally,
Before I Go alludes once more to the essence of the album, the underlying theme of an impending great journey and the enigma contained therein, wistfully echoing the opening arpeggio.
So what's it all about? Chris won't ever say, but I think I know what it is! And, as with all great enigmas, it hides just below comprehension, teasing, intriguing, yet still eluding. Unless you know different
- Les Macliammóir -