Reviews: Solo Guitar
Green Man Review

by John O'Regan, July 2006

Jim Tozier's Celtic Guitar and Solo Guitar find the Irish American guitarist visiting both sides of his musical heritage. American born though with relations in Roscommon, Jim Tozier's music is for the quiet hours of contemplation. He is not one to throw out blizzards of technical virtuosity, but rather someone that knows the space between the notes and their effectiveness. Celtic Guitar has him tackling a series of Irish and Scottish pieces, mostly airs, which he acquits well and by playing them in a simplified, laidback manor he achieves an atmosphere of quiet reverie. Highlights include "Carolan's Welcome" and "Archibald McDonald of Keppoch" where the tunes breathe and enjoy the balm of a choice treatment. Solo Guitar features a series of original pieces -- again while this is a solo recording, the atmosphere is as different as is the palate of stylistic influences. "Song for Shannon" is a melodic tribute to his youngest daughter and the John Renbourne-flavoured tones of "The Water Crossers" lay in the memory long after the CD has been returned to its jewel case. Tozier has a lovely assured sense of touch and feel in his acoustic playing and these two releases are fine soul food after a hard day's work.

» See the review at Green Man Review

Folk Wax

by Kerry Dexter, December 2005

The original music here stands just fine on its own; well-played, thoughtfully delivered with a confident touch and just a taste of a lighter side. It is "original" music, too, within the canon of Folk, Celtic, and Appalachian influence, but clearly stating Jim Tozier's own musical ideas. Many of those ideas were inspired by landscapes or interactions with his children and in his liner notes Tozier gives just enough suggestion of these sources to add context.

» See the review at Folk Wax

Rambles—A Cultural Arts Magazine

by Carole McDonnell, Nov. 12, 2005

The 16 tracks on Jim Tozier's acoustic Solo Guitar CD are gentle and low-key. They are like scattered meditations, moments remembered in tranquility.

All the grooves take the listener on a ride on Tozier's musical stream of consciousness. The tracks reveal many musical influences. Some, like "The Water-Crossers" and "The Copper Waltz," have a Celtic groove. "Dalliance of the Eagles" has both Native American and flamenco echoes, and you might actually feel as if you're soaring overhead with them as you listen.

"The Sheffield Shuffle" is a neat little blues guitar number that feels like an improvised journey to an internal place. "Riverwind" reminded me of California's Santa Ana winds, capturing the power and dread one feels when those eerie winds begin to blow. The subtle Appalachian folk feel of "Trinity" almost demands an accompanying mandolin, and the Elizabethan sounding "Sleight of Hand/The Magicians Jig" makes the listener want to drag out the old lute and dance in King Henry VII's court.

This is a really gentle, sweet acoustic album and is highly recommended.

» See the review at Rambles

Dirty Linen

Issue #120 (Oct/Nov 2005)

Jim Tozier plays tunes from all parts of the Celtic world, as well as his own original pieces that draw on many facets of folk heritage with clarity and a distinct touch. Not too much ornamentation, not a lot of flash and dash, but a devotion to melody and to the guitar as a storytelling instrument with a voice all its own mark his works. Many of the tunes on his collection of original works, Solo Guitar, are inspired by aspects of landscape, and his liner notes give just enough information to illuminate that without overburdening the listener's enjoyment of the music. Outstanding tracks include "The Copper Waltz," "Frenchman's Bay," and "Dragonflies." On Celtic Guitar, he investigates well-known pieces, including "The Star of County Down" and "Carolan's Cottage," with a quiet yet vigorous style that bears repeated listening.

» See the review at Dirty Linen

Minor 7th

by Kirk Albrecht (Jul/Aug 2005)

Jim Tozier has been laying down the tracks lately. In addition to this fine collection of 16 original instrumentals, Tozier simultaneously released Celtic Guitar, his arrangements of many standard British-Isles tunes for solo steel string guitar. From the first chord, it is apparent that Tozier has been immersed in the form and feel of Celtic music; his tunings of DADGAD and CGCGCD are widely used by modern interpreters of Irish and British music first played on fixed-pitch instruments. Many of modern fingerstyle guitar's brighter lights like Laurence Juber, Amrit Sond, the frailing of Steve Baughman, and Al Petteway echo through Tozier's work. Petteway's hand is all over the recording as co-producer and sound engineer at his Fairewood Studios. We never move too fast, or too slow, but Tozier allows us to drink in the notes as they fall off his fretboard. There are various moods conveyed in this collection. We soar and dip on the winds with "Dalliance of the Eagles" with its strumming, tapping, and gentle fingerpicking. "The Sheffield Shuffle" syncopates, while "Train Station Blues" is a brief stop along the tracks. We see the smile of his young daughter in the lilting "Song for Shannon," and gracefully take a turn with him in "The Copper Waltz," dedicated to his wife Marilouise. "New York" gives us a musical memory of a night in the Big Apple, while "Frenchman Bay" caresses our senses with an almost hypnotic melody woven against a drone bass line. All in all, it's a fine release of solo guitar music very easy on the ears.

» See the review at Minor 7th

Bridge Guitar Reviews

by Hank te Veldhuis, 2005

This finger-style guitarist USA, gets his inspiration from the surroundings of the Chesapeake Bay in Southern Maryland, USA. Jim plays as well Celtic as original compositions derived from his Irish heritage. He studied together with Al Petteway and El McMeen and one feels the warm embracing sound of his steel string acoustic guitar. Jim Tozier has a lyrical approach in his composing style and his music reflects skilled techniques with an embracing soothing and melancholic touch. Jim plays mostly in DADGAD and some other open tunings, which give his guitar music that Celtic feeling. His album Solo Guitar contains 16 splendid pieces of art which fully absorb a listener in a passionate way. Jim's music is honest and one feels it comes direct from his heart. He just paints his songs in intriguing and coloured sound palettes. He presents a showcase of techniques with hammer-on and pulling off techniques and flowing rich overtones in moving melodies as "Monkeyshines," "The Water-Crossers" and for instance "Dragonflies." "The Sheffield Shuffle" has a intense groove in a brilliant setting just as "Train Station Blues." At the same time Jim released Celtic Guitar which is completely focused on Celtic traditionals with pieces from Turlough O'Carolan and Scottish and Irish works. Jim Tozier is a sublime acoustic guitarist with a rousing own signature.

» See the review at Bridge Guitar Reviews

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