The prolific Phil Keaggy is at it again with Inseparable, a two CD set encompassing 21 tracks of guitarist glee. While Keaggy is known for jumping from genre to genre like our local radio stations switch formats, this time around he is firmly planted in rock/pop… well, sort of firmly planted. Okay, he’s all over the place again.
Dangerously self-produced, Keaggy is able to steer the straight and narrow this time out. The songs are usually quite bare but with an edge of roughness about them to keep one’s interest. Similar to his landmark Underground album, most of the tracks feature clever drum programming and interesting keyboard textures to accompany his trademark guitar and his silky smooth McCartney-esque voice. Lyrically you’ll be left with no doubt that Keaggy is a Christian, as the majority of these songs are directed to his Maker. But like the Psalms, the lyrics are personal and more poetic than your run-of-the-mill Christian lyrics, seeking more to commune than to convert. “Litany to the Spirit” is a prime example: “When I’m tossed about / Either with despair or doubt / Yet before the glass be out / Sweet Spirit comfort me.” As this contemplative, subdued prayer song ends with an unexpected gutsy punch of sinister strings, tribal drums and twisted bass, it became a quick favorite.
Also high on my list is “The Seeing Eye (remix),” where a gurgling synth sound is brought to the front, lending a strong sense of urgency to this dizzying song. The title track is similar in feel to the aforementioned Underground album in feel with lots of interesting chord changes and a Beatlesque sound. “Little Star” is an excellent bedtime song to sing to your young children with a catchy melody and calming, reassuring feel … that is, a great song if you can play the guitar like Keaggy.
Of course, with an album of this magnitude there are bound to be a few below par. The cover of McCartney’s “Motor Of Love,” for instance, usually compels me to press the skip button. A few other songs don’t earn the dreaded skip but fail to ladle my gravy. But for a self-produced album (and in my mind Keaggy usually needs a talented producer other than himself to be at his best) the strong tracks heavily outnumber the weaker cuts.
A single CD version is available in stores and should suffice for all but the freakiest Keaggy freaks, while the two CD set is available only at www.philkeaggy.com.
First published in 2003 in WhatzUp.