Tone and technique are the stars of this impressive show. A well-balanced collection of instrumental and vocal tracks, it's the playing on Night at the Oasis that wins the day. Obviously, Adams is a guitarist worth watching...
Night at the Oasis
Artist: Chris Adams
Label: Tree Records
Length: 10 tracks / 42:14
UK guitarist Chris Adams shows his considerable fretboard chops right off the bat on "The Fine Line," the opening track of his latest project, Night at the Oasis. The first thing you'll notice after the piano-laced introduction to the slow tempo-ed instrumental is the striking similarity to the tone and technique of Kansas' Kerry Livgren - and folks, that's not a bad thing! In fact, it's the tasty and emotional guitar work that takes center stage throughout most of the album, and rightfully so. Whether he's playing classical nylon string acoustic ("At the Fire") or whipping up some rockin' funk ("Love is the Answer"), Adams wields a mighty solid axe.
Stylistically straddling prog, jazz, funk, classical and classic rock, Adams gives us everything from Stryper-like guitar harmony licks on "City of Gold" to the familiar Mountain "Mississippi Queen" riff in the Hendrix cover, "Fire." Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum we hear a hint of "Blackbird" in the acoustic intro to the album's title track before the song opens up into a heavy electric blues mode. Binding the styles together is the distinctive tone and alternately subtle and fiery technique of Adams' guitar.
Influenced by classic rock bands like Kansas and Pink Floyd but also with a distinct leaning toward blues and prog, Adams' songs sometimes sound familiar in format ( "Still Got the Blues" made me think of Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" as well as a couple of other tunes) but it's a familiarity that works in the context of an album that's really more about performance than composition. This is not at all to imply that the album is imitative or unoriginal. Songwriting here is second to Adams' stunning and captivating guitar work, and it makes perfect sense.
Tone and technique are the stars of this impressive show. A well-balanced collection of instrumental and vocal tracks, it's the playing that wins the day. Obviously, Adams is a guitarist worth watching, and could just be a hook and vocal or two away from delivering the album that will get him the attention he deserves.