Keith Randall is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer from Hershey, Pennsylvania. Refusing to box himself into any one specific sound, his music is a refreshing blend of genres, including world, smooth jazz, classical, and rock. Randall’s first release was the CPMA-nominated EP, I Feel it Too, released in 2022. This was followed by another EP, Laiko, released at the start of the year. Now Randall returns with a full-length album entitled, Aspire, which features eight original, instrumental compositions. Classical guitar plays a prominent role throughout, being Randall’s primary instrument, but he also plays bass, keyboards, and percussion on the record. His wife, Sonya, contributes alto sax, violin, and flute to the recordings. Aspire was recorded, mixed, and mastered at School House Sound, Annville PA.
The title track, Aspire, has a lovely modal sound and is characterized by a repeated guitar figure. A two-part violin line implies chord changes underneath but the bassline vamps on the root note, anchoring the harmonic center. This suspense is released when we reach the middle-eight, which sees a breakaway into some minor chords before returning to the motif. A driving drum pattern gives this composition a brilliant intensity from start to finish.
Randall captures the feeling of romance perfectly with Catching Feelings, Catching Fire. The track opens with some gorgeous flamenco guitar lines before the drums enter and lock into a Latin groove. A bridge section introduces some wistful chord changes, over which the saxophone delivers a catchy melody, layered to create a two-part harmony.
A spacious tom part serves as the rhythmic backbone in Riviera Nights, complimenting the ethereal sound of the refrain, with its use of rich, suspended chords. The refrain features some wonderful call and response, with descending piano lines answering the warbly-sounding guitar arpeggios that front the section.
The Moonlight and You is the album’s most tender moment and is set to a slow-waltz groove. Randall demonstrates his guitar chops in the introduction, with perfectly executed slides connecting the notes in the arpeggios that he plays. A saxophone line is introduced over the top, pulling notes from the rich guitar chords underneath. The whole track is awash with delay, gluing the parts together and adding to the dreamy, moonlit scene that the music creates.
Silk begins with a string of mesmerizing flute lines before developing into a dark, syncopated beat, with violin, piano, and guitar all providing nuanced countermelodies. The rhythm is staggered and rather unsettled but the push and pull from the various instruments ties everything together and showcases Randall’s deftness for complex composition.
Aspire sees Randall draw from a wide palette of styles and textures to create a collection of beautifully moving, instrumental pieces. His exquisite guitar playing is a real highlight, as is the careful layering of counter-melodies and rhythms across the variety of instruments that he employs.
BELOW: Listen to Aspire and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Keith Randall by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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