First Appeared at The Music Box, April 1999, Volume 6, #4
Written by John Metzger
On its debut album Extenuating Circumstances, the Brookfield, Illinois-based Guilty create a delightful fusion of folk, jazz, and blues. The band is led by singer/songwriter Phil Circle, and the group performs with a variety of line-ups that can include up to ten members.
Over the years, Circle has been involved with a number of ensembles, but with Guilty, he chose to retain complete artistic control right from the start. He personally contacted investors to raise money for recording and releasing Extenuating Circumstances, and he refuses to get involved with promoters, managers, and agents. Instead, everything involving the group is handled through an extensive network of family and friends. Throughout the endeavor, vocal duties are shared by Circle and his wife Laurel Holman. On songs like Any Worth at All and the jazzy Except for Today, their voices perfectly fit together as they soar majestically over the varied and beautiful instrumental excursions of the backing band.
Perhaps the best tracks on Extenuating Circumstances are Can't Keep Myself Away and Pandora's Box. On the former, Guilty coasts through a funky jazz groove, blending acoustic guitar with fiddle as well as tenor and alto saxophones. On the latter, which was recorded in concert, Guilty explores a blues-oriented theme that perfectly captures the magic of John Mayall's acoustic compositions. Matt Steinmetz intertwines the sound of his harmonica with the acoustic guitar duo of Circle and Dominic Gaudious.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box