Reviews: Celtic 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

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

Rambles--A Cultural Arts Magazine

by Carole McDonnell, Sep. 17, 2005

The eloquent and lyrical 21 tracks of Jim Tozier's Celtic Guitar CD show him to be a highly skilled acoustic guitar player. Each stroke shows the sure and steady hand of a master.

From the slow and lyrical "Blind Mary" to the moodier "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore" (which is accompanied with his own composition, "The Drums of Dawn") to the quicker "The Rocks of Brae," Tozier's CD is an amazing tribute to the Irish and Scottish folk tradition.

Some tunes, such as "Slane," "Paddy O'Carroll" and "Loch Lomond," are well-known already, and the critical ear will find no false, ambivalent or ambiguous note on this album of Scottish and Irish folk instrumentals. Other tracks are equally traditional but not melodies that I personally have heard before, such as "Pretty Girl Milking a Cow."

Most of the songs on the CD are slow and full of a melancholy Celtic longing. I would have liked a peppier mix, reminding us the Celtic soul does have its merrier, friskier moments. Nevertheless this is a great album, and both guitarists and those who love Celtic folk music will like this collection of tunes.

» See the review at Rambles

Guitar Nation

by Norman Beberman, August 2005

Roots music depends on your perspective. In the US, it means blues and the songs of the 1930's that told the tales of the Great Depression. Cross "the pond", and roots music in the UK goes back hundreds of years. The common thread is that roots music has been saved from extinction and is kept alive through largely "oral traditions" of passing the music down to succeeding generations one song at a time, one musician at a time.

The best of the current guitarists keeping the Celtic tradition is Jim Tozier. Jim's debut CD, Castlerea, established him as one of the most eloquent Celtic guitarists in the world. On his new CD, Celtic Guitar, Jim has done that which is the hallmark of genius by becoming more intricate and more subtle at the same time.

Celtic Guitar stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the great, universally known, Celtic guitarists of our time. If you are a fan of Celtic guitar, you either know who Jim is or you will know who Jim is.

Jim's 2nd CD clocks in with a very generous 21 songs; traditional Irish, traditional Scottish, tributes to O'Carolan . . . It would be difficult to imagine spending a more pleasant hour or so than with Jim's Celtic Guitar playing in the background.

The 'net not only gives musicians the ability to be heard, it also gives musicians the opportunity to get behind new and deserving artists. Fans of Celtic guitar owe it to themselves to listen to Jim and decide for themselves whether his playing deserves the praise that it has been receiving. For my precious listening time, Jim's music has a very deserving placed at the front of the line. Give Celtic Guitar a listen--he could well wind up at the front of your listening line too!

» See the review at Guitar Nation

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