Phil Keaggy's newest vocal album Dream Again finds the Christian virtuoso laying down the guitar heroics of his last two albums (Jammed! and Roundabout) in favor of a collection of stripped-down, and mostly acoustic, songs. His first album of self-penned vocal originals since Inseparable, Dream Again is an engaging and interesting peek into Keaggy's often-overlooked songwriting talents.
One of Dream Again's most noticeable charms is the way it maintains a consistently straightforward and low-key approach throughout. Keaggy makes it a point never to overdress his arrangements, allowing his melodies and lyrics to float to the forefront instead. By keeping things simple, Keaggy allows his songs to speak for themselves, and more often than not, Dream Again succeeds by delivering just enough emotion without overselling it. "Thank You For Today" is an endearingly simple and charming song of gratitude that stands as one of his best, while "Kathy's Song" is a heartfelt ode to friendship, dedicated to his older sister. Keaggy also takes some interesting detours, translating the excellent Scripture verse "Micah 6:8" ("What does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.") into an interestingly arranged and effective musical passage.
Musically, Keaggy lets his influences shine through. One listen to Dream Again brings to mind Paul McCartney's latter day solo projects with its likeable melodies and unassuming façade. "Thank You For Today," "There With You" and "Love Is The Reason" especially shimmer with the former Beatle's melodic trademarks, while shadows of other great singer-songwriters make themselves felt on Dream Again. The melancholy vibe of the title track is purely Elliott Smith in spirit, while "Redemption" is almost Dylanesque in both its tone and message.
With a strong collection of quietly melodic and well-written songs, Phil Keaggy has delivered yet another winning album with Dream Again. Whether you're a Keaggy addict, or just a devotee of simple, yet memorable acoustic songs, Dream Again is most certainly worth checking out.- Review date: 3/10/07 by Sherwin Frias
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