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Chris Conway - Close The Circle
 
Chris Conway Close The Circle


1
0° - Future - Summer

2

An Old Fashioned Future

3

I Cast My Soul
4
Songrise
5
90° - Past - Autumn
6
Lifespell
7
Simple
8
Castle, Seed & Candle
9
180° - Blood - Winter
10
Wake Me Up When It's Over
11
The Great Escapist
12
Empty House Time Machine
13
270° - Love - Spring
14
Dreaming Of You
15
Forget About You
16
Homecoming



Chris Conway -
vocals, acoustic & electric 9 string guitars, piano, keyboards,
tin & low whistles, theremin, kalimba, zither, effects, electric kantele, percussion, samples, drum programming
Neil Segrott -

fretless bass - 2, 11, 14, 15

samples -
door & children's voices - 12
cable car (San Francisco) - 5
audience vocal drone (Confluence Filk Convention 2006) - 5



chris conway close the circle back


 


Chris Conway
12 beautiful songs and 4 short interludes featuring lush harmonies.
A raft of exotic instrumentation and - and powerful heartfelt songs - each track is like a crafted jewel.

"a gentle and reflective album, deftly played and expressively sung - a most impressive recording and you are urged to check it out"
- Holding Together


background
It had been 5 years since CCs last songs album.

A creative spell at the turn of 2006 was the spark that set him back in the studio recording his new songs together with others he had written in the intervening years.

A really close personal statement, dreamy harmonies, thoughts on life, love and the world. Gentle but powerful.


influences
The Free Design, Brian Wilson, Donal Lunny, John Sebastian, Alan Stivell, David Crosby, Jesse Colin Young, Richie Havens, Marcos Valle, John Phillips, The Association

trivia
The title of An Old Fashioned Future was inspired by Bruce Sterling book title.

The Great Escapist nearly turned up on My Minds Island album - but a computer crash wiped the recording.

Empty House Time Machine was written on a day of he;ing to clear both his mothers house, and his sisters house for sale in Cambridge on the same day.

Forget About You was fist recorded on The Storm Thieves - Up To The Sun album. It is a favourite of CCs family.

The title Close the Circlecome froma line in Lifespell. It also seemed to CC like there were resonances between this album and his first ever songs album Sounds Like Rain - inba way he felt he'd come full circle.

CC was particularly inspired by The Free Design on this album - particularly in the way they handled harmonies.


CC's fave track - Dreaming Of You

interview
Chris Conway talks to Dorain Morian (Songwriting Today) about Close The Circle.
Chris Conway

Q. It's been nearly 5 years since your last CD(s) of songs. Why the long break from songs?

A. After the 2 song albums I made in 2002 I kinda got into other things - lots of things actually - electronic music, ambient, Celtic, new age - I fact I recorded 22 albums since then - some live song recordings - just not new songs. I also thought those 2 song albums were hard to beat. Then early in 2006 I got seriously into songwriting again.

Q. So what's different about Close the Circle? What's changed in 5 years?

A. Hmnn... The way I handle harmonies is a big difference. I use more counterpoint harmonies, canons, and banks of them. I'm also 5 years older - perhaps that leads to different subjects - I'm in a different point in my life.

Q. The harmony vocals are amazing on the album - who influenced you in that?

A. I've always loved bands with great harmonies - Mamas & the Papas, Crosby Stills & Nash, Jefferson Airplane and the West Coast harmonies. While I was recording this I was listening a lot to The Free Design - their adventurous way with harmonies certainly spurred me on in that direction. Also classical choral groups like Singer Pur, The 5th Dimension and of course Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys - I'm a harmony nut!

Q. Why the title Close the Circle?

A. there's a feeling about returning - getting back to songs - coming back into the world after a time away. The mainstream world can work to isolate individuals - that was the story of my last My Minds Island album - this is about returning to the world. The desire to be a part of something. Plus when the album was recorded I noticed connections with my 1st album Sounds Like Rain. it was like coming full circle.

Q. on previous song albums you had either a band or some guests - apart from Neil Segrott on 4 tracks, you played and sang everything. Why was that?

A. 2 reasons really - I chose to do all the harmonies myself to get a different sound to my other albums - it allowed me to experiment more with the harmonies. It also felt like a personal - up close album. Doing so much of the music myself made it feel like that.

Q. what's with the 0, 90, 180, 270 degree interludes and their titles?

A. I was thinking of the chorus from the song Lifespell - Love, Blood, Future, Past - and thought of how the album could divide into quarters .Then I thought of the seasons and matched those with the Lifespell sections. It then seemed cool that the songs seemed to fall into the catagories Love, Blood, Future, Past - or it's accompanying season. The little interludes act to divide the quarters and give a hint sound wise of their title.

Q. your song albums often have a theme or overall idea. What would that be here?

A. There's a personal journey - returning. To songs - to life - to the start. Re-integration. Coming home.

reviews

Holding Together Magazine

 

Chris Conway

Those of you who saw Jefferson Starship when they played at Market Harborough last year may have been lucky enough to catch Chris Conway and Dan Britton opening the gig that ight with a fine support set. If you enjoyed that, you are bound to like this , Chris's eighth solo album.

It's actually beena few years since the last collection of new songs ; in between Chris has explored electronic and ambient music. So this is a very welcome return - and the title "Close the Circle" is in part a recognition that Conway is returning to the song-writing muse that spawned his album "Sounds Like Rain"

To further develop the circle motif, the album is devided into thematic quadrants (0 degrees - Future/Summer, 90 degrees - Pas/Autumn, 180 degrees = Blood/Winter, and 270 degrees - Love/Spring) and the songs of each quartile are linked to that section's theme.

Chris played all the instruments himself (acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboards, theremin, kalimba, zither, whistles and percussion) except for the fretless bass which was provided by Neil Segrott on four tracks. He also handled all of the vocals including the harmonies - which are really stunning.

Chris has always been a big fan of Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills & Nash, the Mamas & the Papas and the whle West Coast harmony sound they produced and it is that sensibility that infuses these recordings - David Crosby, James Taylor, and CS&N are the obvious reference points for Chris's voice and layered harmonies he lays down. But in addition tot he shimmering CS&N approach, the structure of soem of the songs is also highly reminiscent of the way Grace Slick was writing in the 1980s (from "Dreams" right through to "Common Market Madrigal" on the Airplane reunion album)

Close the Circle is a gentle and reflective album, deftly played and expressively sung. "I Cast My Soul", Wake Me Up When It's Over", "Empty House Time Machine" and "Dreaming of You" are your reviewers favourite cuts but this is really a most impressive recording and you are urged to check it out at www.chrisconway.org.


Maverick Magazine - John Brindle

Chris Conway - Close The Circle
Oblong MusicOBL CD056
www.chrisconway.org
* * * *
Born in the United States but based in Leicester; multi-instrumentalist and writer Chris Conway issues ambitious solo project.
Chris Conway is arguably the pick of Leicestershire based singer songwriters. He is a naturally creative musician; equally accomplished on guitar, piano, or Celtic sounding whistles and effects.
Conway's main problem may be his versatility; this music isn't easily pigeon holed. A look at his back catalogue reveals a plethora of releases; including eight instrumental (jazz, ambient, world) and eight previous solo 'song' albums.
Vocally he recalls David Crosby; with his smooth delivery teetering on the edge of Jazz. Indeed, anyone who enjoys Crosby's side project, CPR or Marc Cohn, will find this release very much to their taste.
Close The Circle's twelve songs are divided into four sections introduced by brief instrumental snatches; Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. An Old Fashioned Future is a fine song with its acoustic guitars, percussion and perfectly layered harmonies. The Celtic sounding Songrise, breezy and optimistic; captures the 'summer' vibe; 'Let the winter take its toll, I feel a change in the wind …'
The autumn section is equally impressive with perhaps Castle, Seed & Candle being the standout here. Winters' The Great Escapist is a tour de force with a gorgeous mid-tempo melody; very reminiscent of Joni Mitchell. Neil Segrott excels on bass here too.
Arguably the real highlights are when Chris pairs down the instrumentation for a stark piano number like Empty House Time Machine, where the author revisits his past. Brilliant song!
Another standout track for me is Springs' Homecoming. Again this piano ballad has a beautiful melody and a lyric of contentment; 'with this new found wisdom and the love of good friends the journey never really ends.'
Recorded at home, and in San Francisco, this impressively produced set deserves to reach a wider audience.

Rock n Reel Magazine - Dave White

Chris Conway - Close The Circle
(Oblong Music) www.chrisconway.org
* * * *
Leicester-based American singer-songwriter Chris Conway is, bemusingly, one of the UK music scene's best kept secrets. A prolific talent, Conway can turn his hand to roots, pop, folk, jazz, New Age, Celtic and electronic musical styles, sounding entirely at home in all of them.
I discovered one of his early song-based albums back in the 90s and have been a fan ever since. A great voice, and a writer of stylish, easy-on-the-ear material, his considerable abilities as an arranger and producer ensure that quality control remains in-house and at a very high level. That his recordings are, in the main, self -released too, merely confirms that Conway knows what he's doing, and that he does it very well indeed.
His latest collection of songs epitomises all those attributes. A masterclass in the DIY approach to music making. I usually end my reviews of his recordings musing as to the shortsightedness of major labels in letting this genuine talent pass them by. This one's no different.

"Close The Circle" is an old fashioned song cycle, set in contemporary songwriting. Themed around the season's, Chris surprisingly starts off the cycle with Summer. I guess that gives him the chance to end with Spring and rebirth, but in it's self unusual. Chris is an experienced recording artist and it shows. The album is as crisp as granny smith and just as sharp, though not without a hint of sweetness to enhance the flavour. "Close the Circle" feels like a journey away from home and a slow winding return. Drawing on the hope of arrival.

testimonials

"What a pleasure! I'm particularly struck by the deftly crafted imagery of its texts, the gorgeous orchestration of its music and the way in which the two are so flawlessly married in the songwriting.
From its lush layers to its toe tapping lilts, thanks for what is easily one of my favorite musical acquisitions in recent memory"
Terry Gilmer - Atlanta, USA


"Just a quick word say how much I love the new Close the Circle CD.
The favourite track changes daily but, 'I cast my soul' is perfection. My wife is hooked on it too."
Graham Crofts - Leicester UK


I want to thank you for the CD. It is just beautiful. Your records always grow on me and instead of tiring of them, I always grow fonder of the songs the more I know them.
Ethel Mann - El Sobrante, California, USA

"Chris Conway's new CD is full to the brim with great songs, The playing and singing is lovely, with special mention for the vocal harmonies which give the whole CD a lush West Coast feel. This is clearly a labour of love. Chris' songs are full of soul and he's a man for whom the sun rises in the morning - it's got a
really positive feel about it. My personal favourite is "Cast my soul" I hope it sells a bucket load." Pete Kenny - CDBaby


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lyrics - all lyrics ©2006 Chris Conway
1. 0° - Future - Summer
CC - piano, tin & low whistles, synthesizers


2. An Old Fashioned Future

1. Now's the time
A day of reckoning
Things left behind
In tomorrow's gentle beckoning
Time to count them all
On the wall
The ancient picture fades
Now I've no call
For mending broken barricades
Now I'm wide awake
Its time to make

chorus
An old fashioned future
Like tomorrow used to be
You won't find it on computer
You can't buy it, it comes for free
The time has come, come again
Nows the time

You won't fail
If you don't jump the fences
But life grows stale
Locked in your defenses
Now it is time to go
All I know
I've gathered in a pile
Now let it grow
Savour it a little while
Then walk out the door
I'm ready for

chorus

We used to share
A dream of the future
No more hunger, no more war
Now it all about the money
And who should mind the store
And you never seem to hear about the vision anymore
But some of us still dream
Some of us still believe
And in this room tonight
Lets the dream take flight
One more night
Lets the dream take flight
On the wings of a song
We've been waiting so long
So long

3. You're only strong
If you still grow
Sing a new song
Step outside your comfort zone
Every now and then
We'll talk again
Maybe in a year or two
We'll remember when
I began these things that I'm going to do
I'm not giving in
We'll be living in

chorus

An old fashioned future
Like the smile across your face
We will find a dream to suit ya
Love and peace and outer space
The time has come, come again
Nows the time
The time has come

CC - vocals, acoustic & electric 9 string guitars, synthesizer, drum programming
Neil Segrott - fretless bass


3. I Cast My Soul

A starlit night
And wiser eyes than mine
Have seen the future shine
From points of light
I cast my soul
Out toward the stars
See us as we truly are
To make me whole
I cast my soul

A mountain top
The patchwork fields below
The world will come and go
And never stop
I cast my soul
Out across the land
Let nature take my hand
To make me whole
I cast my soul

Across the ocean
The waves will sing their song
Their magic is as strong
As any potion
I cast my soul
Out across the sea
To wander wild and free
To make me whole
I cast my soul

I cast my soul x6

See human kind
The strong and the weak
Endlessly they seek
Some piece of mind
I cast my soul
Over now to you
You'll know just what to do
To make me whole
I cast my soul

I cast my soul
Reeling it in, I'm reeling it in
Reeling it in round, round, round
I'm reeling it in

CC - vocals, piano, zithers, electric kantele, electric 9 string guitar, synthesizer, ocean samples, drum programming


4. Songrise

I don't know just where I'm going
I can't tell you where I'm from
But there's a link between the old days and the young
Winter sun casts the longest shadows
Winter souls do much the same
And the darkness is the hardest beast to tame

chorus
But the sun will rise in the morning
And the sun will rise in our hearts
The brightening skies
Will be a sign that we've departed
And the moon will rise in the evening
And a song will rise in our hearts
And the starlit skies will remind us what we started

High up on Electric Mountain
Where the thunder rumbles round
And the faces on the rock face guide me down
It's not a time to shy away now
It's a time for actions bold
The fire is dwindling and the east wind blows so cold

chorus

Let the winter take its toll
I feel a change in the wind
The shattered days are on the mend
I'm an indeterminate soul
I don't know where I begin
I don't know where I shall end

Too many times I've started bravely
I know just where I have to go
Then the doubts and then the fears begin to grow
But it is not the destination
That makes the journey pay
It's the things that you find out along the way

chorus

CC - vocals, acoustic & electric 9 string guitars, electric piano, synthesizer, tin & low whistles, theremin, percussion, drum programming


5. 90° - Past - Autumn

CC - theremins, zither, recording of San Francisco cable car.
audience - vocal drone (Consonance Filk Convention 2006)



6. Lifespell
North star guide my love to me
Through times spent in good company
Smouldering eyes around the fire
With stories tall and spirits higher

chorus
Love blood future past
Stir the seasons in my glass
Drink it back but make it last
All the life you have is in your hands

Southern Cross guide family
Chosen or hereditary
See them safe where they may roam
Remind them of the journey home

chorus

Jack be sluggish, jack be slow
Tell me all I need to know
The candlestick is not so high
For those who have a dream to fly
Stoke the fire up bright and strong
Verse to verse and song to song
The day grows shorter by the hour
Close the circle
Feel the power

Rising sun guide future plans
Though life's strange chaotic dance
Let them truly prove their worth
Of the spark that gave them birth

Setting sun guide memories
Keep them safely here with me
Let them fill the sky with light
Each time I pass from day to night

Chorus

CC - vocals, kalimbas, vibraphone sample, tin & low whistles, theremin with harmonizer & effects

7. Simple
I used to want to be clever
Smarter than all the rest
Took a while to discover
That keeping things simple was the ultimate test
I used to want to dazzle
Like a lighthouse on the shore
But ships all know the light just warns
Of rocks on the old sea floor
It's the

chorus
Simple things I'm still learning
A little bit like this song
If you sing your life too complicated
Nobody can sing along
With you

I used to want to get noticed
Grab my slice of fame
I wanted to know everyone
And for everyone to know my name
Then I saw it coming
I saw I was in danger
Of being the only one that I knew
In the hall of a thousand strangers
It's the

chorus

I used to want to be mysterious
Wanted folks to try and figure me out
And if anyone got too close
I would vanish in a cloud of doubt
Like a kid playing hide and seek
My plan soon ran aground
Coz If you hide too well, you just might find
You secretly want to be found
It's the

chorus

And a notion, an emotion, leads me far astray
From the straight line I spied to point B from A
And this action, this distraction takes me to the sky
Before I fall I must recall - I need to simplify
My life

Sitting in my little green room
All kinds of gizmos at my side
Computer screens and DVDs
But I could not be satisfied
In the corner I saw my guitar
Like it hadn't been touched in years
Before too long a new little song
Lit a fire against my fears
It's the little song you now hear
About the

chorus

CC - vocals, acoustic 9 string guitar, organ, tin & low whistles, drum programming


8. Castle, Seed & Candle

In the sky there's always a castle
Hanging in the evening air
Made of light, created for dreamers
Picturesque, but hard to share
I remember all of my castles
Disconnected, floating freely
My head may be still high in the clouds
Now mother earth is touching me

There's a seed lost deep underground
That never had the chance to grow
Unfulfilled and dormant potential
Locked beneath the ice and snow
Spring has come into the garden
First a seedling, then a tree
I have seen a change with every new season
Can they see a change in me?

Darkness falls, close the curtains,
Find a place to hide
I know you feel uncertain and,
I know it's still cold outside
But quiet places, sparkling rivers
Live the moment, falling free
And when I speak in tunes and rhythms
I hear someone calling me

In my room there is a small candle
Rarely lit now what a shame
Too afraid of reaching the end
To feel the wonder of its flame
There's a voice inside the fire
Let it sing bright, loud and strong
There are choices in the darkest of nights
So keep it burning all night long
All night long

CC - vocals, piano, acoustic 9 string guitar, synthesizers, theremin


9. 180 - Blood - Winter
CC - synthesizer


10. Wake Me Up When It's Over

What was the drug that put us under?
When was the moment we fell sound asleep?
How was it done? Was it guile or blunder?
That turned our minds from sceptics to sheep?

And we know something's not right here
But we close our eyes
No time for words from the wise

Wake me up when it's over x2

Our leaders know they'll never wake us
Softly and gently they take us to war
They know that their lies will never shake us
We'll vote them back in like we did before

And we feel there's no one to trust now
There's just me and you
And I'm not so sure about you

Wake me up when it's over x2

We know destination is surely oblivion
We know that the journey is the only thing real
And every few miles we pass turnings left and right
Strange that we choose to sleep at the wheel

One day there will be a grand awakening
Then we will know who our enemies are
Funny but I get the strangest feeling
We're not going to have to look very far

And when we find
ears that can hear us
Eyes that don't fear us
Minds that don't steer us

I will meet you then
Our eyes will re-open again
We'll wake up and start over

CC - vocals, acoustic 9 string guitar, synthesizers, theremin, drum programming


11. The Great Escapist
Winter in the valley
With that first sharp intake of breath I know it's here
The stars shall be my blanket,
While I sit here by the fire and disappear
Turn the dials and corners
Of the pages of another atmosphere

And love grows cold
As time grows old
Colder by degrees
But before I freeze
I'll be gone

chorus
Coz I wont be there
When the walls come tumbling down
I wont be there
To hear the sirens scream
You will find me
In the final sacred burial ground
Piecing together
The last remaining pieces of the dream
Of the dream

Seasons change
Brings it's own kind of moody introspection
There's corners of my life
That do not bear up to too close inspection
I'm staring at the mirror
But I cannot recognise my own reflection

But I can see
Not far from me
I'll love and then I'll lie
I will live and die and
I'll be gone

chorus

Hold the crystal high
Up toward the light
Let the colours flood in
To this empty night
Feel the magic
And with our second sight
We'll soar into the future
Like a soul bird in flight
A soul bird in flight

So farewell it is
To my walls of stone and coloured glass
I built them up myself
When the world seemed to be
Turning way too fast
Well there's no more rough and ready
Cos this time this time this time
We're gonna build to last

Cos now and then
I start again
Back where I began
But before I can
I'll be gone

CC - vocals, acoustic 9string guitar, electric piano, organ, kalimba, low whistle, percussion, drum programming
Neil Segrott - fretless bass

12. Empty House Time Machine
I visit the house for the very last time.
The spaces are heavy
Weighed down with the time
The days that we lived
The room where he died

Playing out all the scenes
In this empty house time machine

I pass through the kitchen
The cupboards are bare
A glimmer of light
At the top of the stair
I climb up, surprised
To find nobody there

Playing out all the scenes
In this empty house time machine

The time has flown by so fast
It's hard to believe
But it's time to open the past
Let it breathe
Let it breathe
Let it breathe

I'm hearing the voices
Go round in my head
Sessions and songs
And the things that we said
The dances we danced
Through the lives that we led

Playing out all the scenes
In this empty house time machine

I'm locking the doors
On a world long gone
That weaves through my life
Like an old favourite song
While I've been away
The world has moved on

Playing out all the scenes
In this empty house time machine

CC - vocals, piano, synthesizer, recordings of door and children's voices.


13. 270° - Love - Spring

CC - zithers, temple bells, chimes, synthesizer


14. Dreaming Of You

My book is lying back down on my bed
Tonight the words won't stay in my head
I'm thinking of a time and place
I'm thinking of a look on you face
When days were ours and the world was new
I'm dreaming of you
I'm dreaming of you
Living breathing dreaming you

The owl and the lark, the moon and the sun
Your day dawns when my day is done
But I'll meet you at dawn and twilight
Somewhere between day and the night
I'll close my eyes and just to see me through
I'm dreaming of you
I'm dreaming of you
Living breathing dreaming you

Sleep and darkness
Fold around me
Gather up the images of my desire
Magic endless
Love surround me
Conjure up the fuel to a heart on fire

You're away on the wheel, so tonight I'm alone
It feels so unreal when we talk on the phone
But I'll see you when the morning comes
I can't wait for the rise of the sun
But 'til then there's only one thing that I can do.
I'm dreaming of you
I'm dreaming of you
Living breathing dreaming you

CC - vocals, acoustic 9 string guitar, electric piano, synthesizers, drum programming
Neil Segrott - fretless bass


15. Forget About You

I get home late at night
And I turn on all the lights
And I forget about you babe
That's what I do
And I go on up to bed
I try to sleep but then instead
I forget about you

chorus
And I pretend
That I never really cared
But in the end
I am very well aware
That I still care and I have to
Forget about you babe
Every day
It's always going to be that way

I wake up in the morning
And suddenly without warning
I forget about you, babe
That's what I do
And I put my breakfast on the table
And as well as I am able
I forget about you

chorus

Well I know that they saw
You can make your own hell
But I can't help myself
When my mind starts to dwell
On you, and the smile on you

Maybe one day
I will find myself away
To forget about you, babe
That's what I'll do
But 'til that day comes along
I'll have to keep singing this song
To forget about you

And I'll pretend
That I never really cared
But in the end
I 'll be very well aware
That I still care and I have to
Forget about you babe x3
Forget about you every day

And I'll forget about you
It's all that I can do
And I'll forget about you
If only it were true
I get home late at night
And I turn on all the lights
And I forget about you
Forget about you

CC - vocals, acoustic 9 string guitar, electric piano, drum programming
Neil Segrott - fretless bass


16. Homecoming

I lost my way, a restless child
The days were long, some nights were wild
The past and I now reconsiled
The journey's over.
The day is done
I'm coming home

I burned some bridges, built some walls
Climbed some mountains, had some falls
But you can never climb them all
The journey's over
The day is done
I'm coming home

I played the game in distant lands
And quietly came to understand
I held my future in my hands
The journey's over
The day is done
I'm coming home

Love came to me as a surprise
A knowing look, and sunny skies
I once was bitten, twice was wise
The journey's over
The day is done
I'm coming home

With this new found wisdom
And the love of good friends
The journey never really never ends

What did I learn from all I saw?
I learned I need to learn much more
But here's the house - an open door
The journey's over
The day is done
I'm coming home

And it feels so good to be home

CC - vocals, piano, electric 9 string guitar, synthesizer, tin whistle

 

love & peace & outer space