It is another golden autumn day today. I was sitting in the yard enjoying the sunshine when there was a knock on the door. The post lady handed me a package which contained the new album by Keith Christmas called Life, Life. “That was quick”, I thought to myself because I had only ordered it on Sunday. The first impression I had was that I liked the attractive artwork on the sleeve by David Alderslade. I wonder if he is related to John Alderslade of Village Pump Folk Club fame? It was at the Village Pump in Trowbridge about eight years ago that I first saw Keith Christmas perform. He made a live album that night which I bought, and I have been a fan ever since.
When I put the CD in the machine, I immediately loved the opening song Round The Stones which is about the Stonehenge Festival of 1979. For a person like me who lives in Wiltshire and has been to Stonehenge for the solstice this song is a bit special. I have shared a video of Keith singing the song below if you would like to hear it. I would love to see Keith perform this song actually at the stones or Avebury or even at the stone circle on the Glastonbury Festival site. That would make a great video. The eponymous title track Life Life is next. It is a life affirming song about how we have minor misfortunes but soon get over it and can even use it to our advantage. I like how the lyrics are reflected in the artwork with the open window and the litter of hedgehogs. Love In The Gold is a very touching love song about ageing and how love doesn’t care about a few grey hairs and being forgetful. Wonderful Ride is another optimistic song which makes you feel grateful to be alive.
|Keith recently at Beckenham Bandstand.|
A Gun In His Hand by contrast is a much darker angry anti-war song which warns that people who experience the horrors of war never get over it. The sentiment of the lyrics reminded me of Dylan’s Masters Of War. I think Travelling Blues is a quasi-autobiographical song about life on the road for a musician. Trouble Trouble might be a warning about pride coming before a fall and some pompous people who think the laws of karma don’t apply to them should learn some humility. You only have to watch the news to think that. I haven’t mentioned what a great guitarist Keith is. I don’t play the guitar so I can’t really comment on his technical virtuosity. I just know what I like, and I don’t think there are many acoustic guitar players these days more skillful than Keith. His great guitar playing is amply demonstrated on Who’s Going To Save You?
|Glastonbury 1970 (Keith in afghan jacket)|
The Love That Surrounds You is a wonderful emotive song which I think might be about giving advice to a friend who could be suffering with depression. As well as Keith’s guitar playing the other thing I like about him is his very distinctive singing voice. Keith conveys emotion in his voice very well and you believe that he means every word. Ruled By The Tide is a story of a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the seaside town when he was born. In the lyrics it mentions a Nottage Institute which I had never heard of, so I looked it up. It is a maritime charity named after Captain Charles G. Nottage. It is a great song.
Born Of God takes its inspiration from the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. It is a song that I think is very relevant to this country today. I like the line ‘For We’ll never follow a leader with no honour, it will come to no good in the end’, so, listen up Boris Johnson! The final song is Book Of Magic which is a charming song about having an idea for a book, being rejected but still persevering. I think the answer is to self-publish. It is a very nice song with which to end this most enjoyable album.
|Captain Charles G. Nottage.|
Keith Christmas played on David Bowie’s Space Oddity album and recently played in Beckenham for the 50th anniversary of a concert where he played on the same bill as Bowie in 1969. It was the gig that Bowie immortalised in Memory Of a Free Festival. He also played at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970 and I think Michael Eavis should book him for the 50th anniversary festival next year. If you want to learn more about Keith Christmas you can visit his website here- https://www.becn.co.uk