Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Phil Keaggy has been releasing albums for over 50 years. He was one of the original Jesus Music artists of the early 1970s when his conversion to Christianity caused him to leave his band Glass Harp and make music which spoke about his newfound faith. While his amazing guitar work is what first brought him notoriety in Christian music, it was soon evident that his gentle spirit and strong sense of melody were really what he was about as an artist. Over the years, every one of his albums has had its own flavor: some just instrumental, some vocal, some hard rock, some mellow. While the style changed, his desire to sing and play for the Lord has never waned.
For his latest, Pilgrimage (at least his 70th by my count), he gathered a small group of friends to support him as he presents an album based on poems by Kevin Belmonte. Electric and acoustic guitars serve as the foundation but are always in the service of the song and, in most songs, lead vocals are shared with other artists such as Steve Bell and Erin Propp.
It is clear that Keaggy found inspiration in the poems of Belmonte and wanted to present them in a way that enhanced the texts, including a trio of songs reflecting on the birth of Christ. Keaggy succeeds admirably and has crafted a mostly mellow album that reveals its melodic strengths on repeated listens. (Available on bandcamp.com.)