by Kate Kowsh
If there's any truth to the old saying, "You can tell a lot about a man by the work he does," then Christopher Dean is a well-rounded, confident-but-not-flashy man of substance.
Listening to his third solo album, Celtic Journey is the equivalent of lying in the soft green grass on one of Scotland's rolling hills. The music commands control of all your senses, easing your mind back into a calmer place.
Complicated, intricate chord patterns push along every track, and there's not a minute left unmastered. Dean takes the time to let his nimble fingers execute each measure delicately. No rush. It's evident he's not afraid to take all the time he needs to get it right. As a result, he instills meaning, clout, and pride into each song.
A professional musician for over 40 years, Dean spent ten years studying Scottish and Irish musicology. According to the bio on his Website, it was at the urging and encouragement of friends Jimmy Keigher, Donnie MacDonnald, Dougie MacLean, and Edgar Cruz that he decided to start releasing solo albums.
The CD's opening track is a cover of Scottish music legend Dougie MacLean's "Ready for the Storm," a favorite of Dean's, which MacLean wrote in memory of his great, great uncle Fergus, a crofter and fisherman from the Isle of Lewis.
Track four, "Greensleeves," is a tune that Americans traditionally associate with Christmas. Dean takes on this classic and reclaims it as the traditional English ditty it is.
Such is also the case with "Scarborough Fair," a popular classic, made popular by Simon and Garfunkel. In the liner notes Dean writes that this English folk song has roots that go as far back as the late medieval times. Putting his own stamp on it, Dean accentuates the song's more Celtic elements by slowing it down just a touch to give listeners a chance to soak in the light finger picking. Even still, he makes sure to preserve the distinct chord selections that made it such an exotic classic in the 1960s.
Even though this is an album backed by impressive credentials, with expert production from an artist who obviously did his homework, what makes it enjoyable to listen to is the beauty of music. None of the qualifications matter, just the work. Celtic Journey is all substance.
For more information, go to: www.cairneyhill.