November 10, 2012 – by Doug Gallant
New CD by Island singer-songwriter Chas Guay strong follow-up to 2009’s award-winning Little City
PLENTY OF PROMISE IN PROMISES
The first record I remember actually walking into a record store and buying for myself was Meet The Beatles. It was January 1964, and I was 11 years old. I still recall the thrill that ran through me when the needle dropped on the opening track, I Want to Hold Your Hand.
It was new, it was exciting, it was refreshing, it was oh so bloody cool.
Some 40-odd years later I still look for records that, for one reason or another, make me feel good inside when I cycle through them. And I still find them.
Chas Guay’s Promises is one of those records.
Guay’s follow-up to his award-winning 2009 record Little City had my attention pretty much from the opening bars of Remembrance Day, which kicks off the record.
By the time he transitioned into I Dared Myself, the album’s second track, I was in that sweet little place where good records always take me, a place where the groove is just so good, the lyrics are interesting, the melody lines appeal to me and the production values are exceedingly high.
Promises, which was recorded at Reggie’s Recording Palace in Crapaud with Guay, Reg Ballagh and James Carrier sharing the role of producer, features nine new Guay originals.
Like the album that preceded it, Promises reflects Guay’s diverse musical interests. There are elements of jazz, soul, pop, rock and folk. I hear snippets here and there that remind me of Steely Dan, The Beatles and Neil Young. One song brings Chris Rea to mind, while another makes me think of Mark Knopfler.
I like the fact that just when you think you know where he’s going he goes somewhere else entirely.
A prime example of that is the transition from the mellow groove of Hold Me Now to the bouncy pop of California, the closest Guay comes on this record to a flat out rock ‘n’ roll song.
Guay brought together several of P.E.I.’s best players for this outing.
Guitarists Chris Corrigan, Tian Wigmore and Chris Gauthier are on deck, as is keyboard player Sean Ferris, sax player Barry Sorensen, trumpet player Peter Bevan Baker and drummer Reg Ballagh.
Although Guay is recognized as one of the East Coast’s finest bass players, he opted to play just guitar on the record, utilizing both Remi Arsenault and Devin Hornby in his stead on bass.
Catherine MacLellan and Mike Mooney added backing vocals.
Promises is a little bit like comfort food. You keep going back to it because it makes you feel good.
Guay has evolved over the past several years into one very fine songwriter. Hopefully, there’s another one like this in the cards.
Choice cuts here include Remembrance Day, Promises, Winter Frost, Ragged Angel and California.
Guay launched Promises at The Guild Friday night with a full-band electric show. He’s also doing an acoustic show on Nov. 17 at the Trailside in Mount Stewart.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.