Right off the bat, Dave Keir is a helluva fingerpicker, dazzling not only in his dexterity but also for moody arrangements. He sings, not nearly as well as he plays but certainly sufficient for the protestative declamations of his lyrics, and there's a strong undercurrent of Richard Thompson in both elements. The entire CD, 15 cuts, is a long disc that pulls you in for the entire ride, the vehicle is just Keir and a guitar.
The composer, it becomes evident in the liner notes, is a misfit who must heed the muse at every given opportunity, and the dense nature of "The Year of the Sheep" gives that away, a constant interlock of swirling guitar lines and vocally leashed anger. How Well follows and gently pulls the listener down into a calmer place but not a more reassuring one. All Uneasy Listening is a moody set of pensees on, as Keir puts it, "aspirations to moonlit elopements"; "loves lost, won, aborted, discarded, and remembered"; "gods invented or merely imagined"; and a miscellany of odd subjects.
The CD is intimate but rarely cozy, in a form of exposition that saw emergence in the 70s, when a plethora of LPs issued—personal, creative, offbeat, and specialized, albums designed to present idiosyncratic modes for listeners athirst for non-market products, artistic materials that explored the byways of thought and emotion. Thus, we saw Keith Christmas, Tom Rapp, Pete Sinfield, Shawn Philips, and a small explosion of folkies who would never be seen on stage with Baez and Lightfoot but nonetheless commanded a public and turned out good fare—although a few, granted, like Janis Ian, made market breakthroughs here and there. Tough business.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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