Review of my music by Brad Barrett
10 July 2020
Chris Dair... where dare to begin? He didn't ask me to write this nor is he even aware. Chris Dair's music becomes even tastier upon knowing the man. And I don't mean grilling Chris and eating him. He's a tender soul with a tender touch, but I have morals despite a human-size grill. His Blues is a finger palette of consumption, a convergence of several delicate, soulful styles. With his signature 70s porno 'stache and shades, Chris delivers a bleeding-heart stress-test of the electric guitar. And yet just when mere mortals are already making love he whips out the nylon string acoustic and enchants beyond expectations. In fact, it's so delicious that it's distracting. I vividly recall kissing my lover's neck one night in 2015 when I heard Chris flawlessly execute some Far East scale over a complex harmony. I immediately leapt to my feet to my lover's shock. I simply said, "That's Chris Dair." Granted, she broke up with me the next day but Chris Dair never did.
His music speaks for itself. There is an authenticity and sophistication that makes him a premiere player in the Blues and jazz genres in my opinion. Rarely can a guitarist switch from electric to acoustic (and even bass) with such smooth grace. In fact, there's not enough O's smooooooth. I made the mistake of challenging Chris Dair to a tongue-in-cheek "axe contest" years ago and every friend and family member of mine voted for Chris Dair -- even my own mother and father. And I was adopted.
All I'm trying to say is that Chris Dair is a consummate player, delicate in touch and mindful in tone. His repertoire of playing can seduce the Sirens or behead Medusa. Regardless if he's playing American-based rock or European-based gypsy, rest assured his backbone is The Blues!
Chris Dair reply:
Wow, what a lovely surprise. I guess I just do what I do. To be honest I'm a bit depressed today and this really picked me up! Thank you, you are very kind to say all these things. If my music makes people happy, makes them think and feel, or they just enjoy it, well it's gotta be OK.
Reviews of Crossroads to Freedom
Review from 04.03.2013
Joachim 'Joe' Brookes
Respect! All of the instruments that can be heard on guitarist Chris Dair's present album were played by him personally. This includes, for example, the harmonica and jaw harp. "Crossroads To Freedom" is all about the blues. The guitarist has already released several sound carriers. These include "Prominence", "What Chains?", "Strange Island" and "GuitarRaga".
Inspired by the music of flamenco guitarist Manitas De Plata, he picked up the six-string at a relatively young age and was infected with the blues at fourteen. In the legendary club Ronnie Scotts he appeared with John Mayall, John McVie (John Mayalls Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac) and the jazz musician George Melly. If that's not enough, one of the list of musicians with whom Chris Dair also jammed or played with will make your jaw drop:
Rory Gallagher, Jimmy Page, Ginger Baker, Paul Kossoff, Captain Beefheart, Blodwyn Pig, Cripple Hog, Chicken Shack, Dick Stubbs (Juicy Lucy), Linda Lewis (Ferris Wheel), Dave Davies (Kinks), Roy Wood (Wizard), Mickey Finn (T. Rex), Mark Knopfler, Led Zeppelin,
Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Bukka White, Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix), John Coughlan
(Status Quo), John McLaughlin and Frank Zappa. He is also a composer for the film and media industry.
Let's go straight to medias res. The opener "No Reason Blues" starts with a harp solo backed by a slow rhythm. Then the electric guitar comes into play and you have to keep the ball of enthusiasm flat. The first notes are gigantic and the listener feels stante pede that here is a blues player who brings the 12-stroke from the inside, deep inside, to the man and the woman. Wow, the nimble fingers sprint across the fretboard and the six-string has a really sharp sound. Chris Dair serves up blues rock from the funky corner.
Immediately afterwards he pulls the reins in ... it gets a little slower and quieter. With its spherical mood, "See The Stars" is a piece of dreaming. The answer to the question about Chris Dair's vocal cord abilities is just as positive after the first impression as it is with guitar playing ... convincing. After the first two compositions - all thirteen songs are written by the protagonist - it is "Obsession" (an instrumental). Hammer, these modulations, these big notes, which are partly generated by skilfully pulling the strings, do not remain ineffective. This ballad is the finest food.
Then the theme song "Crossroads To Freedom". Caution! The player shows almost to the point eight and a half minutes. Excitement ... what will this number bring? Just how Chris Dair peels the topic of the track out of its shell has style. Set in mid-tempo, the number in which the protagonist is also his own accompanying singer gets under your skin. The guitar fantasies seem to come from a never ending blues source. Little song and a lot of music characterize this song. Chris Dair serves us an almost trance-like atmosphere. Hammer! The hypnotic number does not have a sag over the entire season.
The thing with the ball and keeping it flat is getting harder, because the enthusiasm is slowly but surely getting out of hand. The crackling in "Never Comin 'Home Blues" is wanted, because with slide guitar and Mississippi saxophone it goes into the delta. "I Feel The Need" ... the listener feels enthusiasm for the flowing guitar runs. In "Ya Smile At Me" a Jew's harp is even used. "Crossroads To Freedom" is a guitar album in which the protagonist demonstrates his multi-instrumental abilities and skills. Whether ballad-like, spherical-floating or rocking (also "Lovin 'You Too Much" with a little feedback orgy at the end), the inclined blues fan simply cannot avoid this record.
Chris Dair is a brilliant man on the guitar and can also convince as a songwriter. Highly Recommended!
(Translated from German)
Jerry W Henry in the Tannehill Trader April 2011
I have been in the music business pretty much all my life. I have a love for music that seems to control most of what I do in life. I am a music journalist along with several other music related jobs and projects. As a music journalist I don’t review the bad stuff. I only write reviews on releases that have merit. I listen to an average of 4 releases to find 1 worthy of a review.
~ Jerry W. Henry (JerryW.Henry@yahoo.com)
Chris Dair’s Crossroads To Freedom (self released) is a 13 song collection for those who want serious guitar work. The guitar work on Crossroads To Freedom is amazing - tastefully amazing. Chris Dair is English, he sings very well and can play guitar with the best of them. That’s all I know about the man. Track 2 is “See The Stars” which has a moody melody that is hard to get out of your head once you have heard it. Listening to “Lovin’ You Too Much,” I checked the liner notes to make sure it wasn’t Johnny Winters. On “Never Comin’ Home Blues” he added sounds like it was on a 78 rpm vinyl disc. When he plays “Last Fall” you think is from the swamps with a sound somewhat like Tony Joe White or J.J. Grey. I enjoyed every single track on this blues masterpiece. Don’t expect an hour of Hendrix frenzy. There are all kinds of tempos and he never overplays. This guy is brilliantly creative. Diversity in styles and composition make this a great blues listen.
AMERICAN BLUES SCENE
Chris Dair Puts Out an Amazing Collection Called "Crossroads To Freedom" BY CASEBEER
If you are on the lookout for some great blues guitarplaying, whether it be throwback blues or blistering blues rock riffs such as I am, then here is another name to throw at you. Chris Dair. I’ve been hearing some phenomenal guitar players lately but Chris ranks right up there with anyone. The list of legends Chris has played or jammed with is lengthy and includes names like Jimmy Page, Ginger Baker, Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin and the great blues player, Bukka White.
This 13 song collection has some seriously amazing guitar work coupled with deep penetrating bass lines. There is some beautiful violin playing implemented on “See the Stars” that harmonizes very nicely with some flawless acoustic guitar work. It has a bit of a haunting melody that I enjoyed a lot….this song could have been done 50 years ago but somehow seems relevant today as well. Track 3 is a piece called “Obsession” and it starts out with a flawless electric guitar in the style of Carlos Santana, just absolutely epic playing. “Obsession” is a brilliantly composed instrumental piece with some very clean picking, underneath a fat guitar sound that leads to a very nice mix. The differing styles just melt together. The guitar used on “Obsession” is a PRS Custom Tiger Stripe body with birds inlaid on the neck.
The title track “Crossroads to Freedom” is an interesting tune. I’m going to go out on a limb here and attach a label to that song, in my mind that is Psychedelic blues. No wonder he lists Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix as two of his influences. The song has an addicting beat that draws you in, while Chris employs the hypnotic powers of delay and echo to keep you there.
Track 5 “Please Don’t Let Me Go” is a very jazzy number that has one foot in the blues and one foot in jazz. Another great song on this release is “Never Comin’ Home Blues”. This is modern day delta blues at it’s absolute best, with some decent harp work and the artificial record scratching on that song is brilliant, leading us to believe it was born in a different time and place and why not? Track 6 features some more traditional blues playing and as he jumps into the next tune,
Chris Dair proves again on this CD that he can drift back forth effortlessly between deep southern delta blues and string scorching blues rock. He earns a spot as one of the top players out there. Is that a juice harp I hear on track 11? This guy has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. On “Goldwater Mountain” he rolls out the canvas and paints another instrumental masterpiece, demonstrating his flawless fretwork.
It’s gonna be really hard to choose a favorite song on this CD, in fact, I’m not going to. I totally enjoyed this entire collection of songs. Chris Dair will definitely get a 5 bluestar rating from us. “Crossroads To Freedom” is truly a must have in your music collection.
Crossroads To Freedom is written and performed entirely by Chris Dair and is his first album dedicated purely to the blues from the Mississippi delta all the way to the streets of Chicago and beyond! What is refreshing is that there appears to be no limitation as to how Chris Dair interprets the way his guitar should be played, having jammed with the best of them down the years including Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Jimmy Page, Mark Knopfler and the great Bukka White to name but a few!
Crossroads To Freedom gets straight down to business with 'No Reason Blues' that is classic Chicago blues harking back to the Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf era! Influences abound here as you would expect from such a seasoned artist, with a somewhat mystical sounding 'See The Stars' offering more than a hint of Ravi Shankar, before the Santana inspired instrumental 'Obsession' transcends over proceedings. Some of these recordings might easily lend themselves to a film soundtrack, that incidentally is not new territory for this man who is not afraid to experiment, as is well demonstrated on the innovative title track 'Crossroads To Freedom' which delivers some very interesting psychedelic blues! 'Please Don't Let Me Go' cruises into some really cool jazz tinged blues ahead of the vintage sounding 'Never Comin' Home Blues', which is given some authentic worn vinyl treatment that many listeners may find intriguing?
Right from the first note on 'I Feel The Need', you become spellbound as his guitar riffs and smooth vocals combine to find the perfect blend and are only set free once a wailing harmonica introduces 'Lovin' You Too Much', as he connects his wah-wah pedal to unleash some screaming guitar SRV style! The laid back 'Last Fall' and 'Leavin' Town Blues' lead us well into JJ Cale chartered territory and on 'Ya Smile At Me', he even finds time to mix in some rare juice harp with some good ole country blues. Listening to 'Goldwater Mountain', you discover a fabulous example of American acoustic roots music (reminiscent of the early Doobie Brothers), before 'Lost In Wasted Time' delivers a dreamy guitar solo that even Roy Buchanan might have taken his hat off to!
Crossroads To Freedom is the album you always wanted to own and could never remember the name of, and it also marks the moment Chris Dair stepped out of the shadows to become a genuine blues artist in his own right! Check him out at http://www.chrisdairmusic.com and discover what you've been missing!
Blues Underground Network - John Vermilyea
Just before I started this review I headed over to Chris Dair's main website and noticed some scrolling text on the top of his homepage. It said "Chris Dair is now No. 1 on the Reverbnation BLUES charts for FRANCE!!", certainly a worthy accomplishment for any blues artist. Chris Dair however is not just any blues artist, nor is he just a blues artist, for his talents far exceed such a simple classification.
Chris Dair's introduction to musicianship was sparked by hearing the famed flamenco artist Manitas De Plata, whom after hearing "him play at Arles in 1964, Pablo Picasso is said to have exclaimed "that man is of greater worth than I am!".
At 14 Chris Dair's love of the Blues quickly got him gigging with the likes of John Mayall and John McVie, at many great London Venues. While still a young lead Guitarist, Chris Dair jammed and played with many of the greats such as Rory Gallagher, Jimmy Paige, Ginger Baker, Mark Knopfler, Led Zeppelin, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, and Bukka White, to name just a few. Chris Dair is also a very talented Composer in the Film and Media Industry, for Nickelodeon, Guinness World Records (USA), The Vibe, Brian Waddell (USA), True Hollywood Story (USA), ITV, and Planet Television, to name a few.
"Crossroads To Freedom" is Chris Dair's fourth Album and his first Album completely dedicated to the blues. It consists of 13 tracks which are all Originals, written by Chris and while you could certainly over simplify it by saying that "Crossroads To Freedom" is a Collection of 13 great songs, you would not being doing that Album justice, for it is much more than a Collection of Songs, it is quite simply a Mosaic of exceptional music. It is also an Album, that of course has many Blues Styles, but that are done in such a way that they transcend Geographical borders and would better be classified as World Blues. Most of songs that you will hear on "Crossroads To Freedom", may certainly be familiar in style to other well known musicians, such as B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and yes even Jim Morrison, but they are brought forward by Chris with a uniqueness of delivery, that you may find even more amazing considering the fact that the only musician and vocalist on "Crossroads To Freedom" is Chris Dair.
This is a fact I confirmed with him via email in which he stated, "all of the instruments are played by me, bass, guitars, harmonica, etc. I recorded and produced the album in my small studio at home." Something I also found unique was Chris Dair's fantastic ability to match his vocals to what ever particular style he is playing, which is a rare talent indeed. I found listening to "Crossroads To Freedom", to be more of a long uninterrupted journey than simply a bunch of quick stops. The music Chris Dair presents on this Album is put together in such a way that it gracefully and logical blends as one, almost like the score one would expect on a great movie.
Pulling out a few songs that could be said were my favorites would be doing this Album a disservice, somewhat like pulling the teeth out of a persons mouth that had a perfect smile already. Each song on "Crossroads To Freedom" has it's own unique specialness and does not deserve the classification of being "better than the rest". "Crossroads To Freedom" shows off the amazing talent that is Chris Dair, a talent that can certainly be put up and compared to the best musicians,vocalists, and songwriters, out there today.
Not to much thought was required for me to see that "Crossroads To Freedom" certainly deserved my highest rating of 5*****. A rare find, from a rare Artist.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
UNIVERSAL MUSIC TRIBE - MICHAEL BUFFALO SMITH
Honestly, it has been a while since I heard a guitar player that I resonate with like I do Chris Dair. The English guitar slinger is not only a brilliant and creative innovator on the six-string, he is also a extremely talented vocalist. On Crossroads to Freedom, Dair takes us on a joy ride from the straight up electric blues of “Lost in Wasted Time” and “No Reason Blues” to the wah-wah laden blues rock instrumental “Lovin’ You Too Much,” a tune that evokes memories of Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
And just when you think you have him figured out, that guitar of his takes us into a slow, moody “See the Stars,” a kind of Van Morrison meets Dire Straits sound.
The title track “Crossroads to Freedom,” is a blues that hints at Pink Floyd and Jim Morrison. At least that’s what I hear. All I know is that I could play that one song on a loop for hours. I do love the way Dair recorded “Never Comin’ Home Blues” with pops and scratches to sound like an old 78 rpm record. There are so many wonderful sounds on the album, it is almost hard to describe. I even hear Tony Joe White and J.J. Cale influence on songs like “Last Fall,” while at other times his guitar playing brings to mind people like John McLaughlin or Frank Zappa on his Shut Up and Play Your Guitarrecord.
Until last week I had not heard of Chris Dair. Now I can honestly say that he is one of my favorite artists. Yes, it is that good of an album. Buffalo says “check it out.” -Michael Buffalo Smith
Paris on the Move
A collection of original blues inspired by those composed in the Mississippi delta and those played in the streets of Chicago, but written and played here by Chris Dair, a singer-guitarist too little known in France but whose talent is such as you never knew. You will soon see him playing everywhere in France.
You are offered here thirteen songs with a duration of around fifty minutes during which the guitarist engages in some fine technical prowess, supported by superb bass lines. But Chris Dair is not just a great guitarist, the boy also has a voice that sticks superbly with this musicality that oozes from amps. As proof, he was on the list of 'Best English guitarist' for the British Blues Awards 2011 and he jammed with names like Jimmy Page, Ginger Baker, Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin and the famous bluesman Bukka White.
n ° 1 on the Blues connection CD charts and n ° 1 on the Reverbnation Blues charts in France, the musician does not deny any of his blues roots, the fingers and the soul bathed in a blues tinted as well by Muddy Waters as Howlin ' Wolf. A violin on 'See the Stars' lights up beautiful flights of acoustic guitar while on the instrumental 'Obsession', Chris Dair plays it like Carlos Santana (on a PRS Custom Tiger Stripe guitar), sliding from a sound universe to the other, as if he alone could allow the same guitarist to rub shoulders with musical palettes as different as those offered on this plate.
'Crossroads to Freedom', which gives its title to the album, will captivate you with its game of six shamanic strings, almost hypnotic, flown over by Hendrix-style shivers. More jazzy, 'Please Don't Let Me Go' is the very type of song in which jazz pays homage to its blues roots, with this lineage that guitarists like Frank Zappa and Pat Metheny have perfectly succeeded and that Chris Dair forged his turn, with his talent.
A talent that we would like to see playing in France much more often and whose each album is a new discovery, a new very nice surprise.
Frankie Bluesy Pfeiffer & Dominique Boulay Paris-Move & Blues Magazine