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Waxed - Record Review from Issue #32 March-April 2001

Various Artists

Nashville Guitars (Nuance / Lightyear)

The professional pickers on Music Row must be a frustrated lot. Even though many of them write songs, no one ever lets them play them on albums. Almost no one in the mainstream does instrumentals, so it’s no wonder that eleven of Nashville’s hot guitarists signed on to contribute instrumental cuts to this disc.

Nashville Guitars was produced by picker Louis Shelton (the Monkees’ “Last Train To Clarksville”, that’s him), who also runs the label. These session pickers blow off a thunderhead-sized cloud of steam on their day off from plucking strings by the numbers for radio hitmakers, but the result is an odd one.

There’s not a clunker on the disc, but I’ll be danged if I can tell the difference between one guitarist and another. Every tune romps at about a 1,000 miles an hour and provides sufficient enough twang to impress, but there’s a sense of monotony.

The sleeve bios note that Jim Olander (Diamond Rio) uses a “Fender bender” to get his great ringing tone, but that’s about all that distinguishes his cut from, say, Kerry Marx’s (Cash, Elton John, Wynonna) “Wide Open”, which shares sonic dynamics despite sounding entirely original in a “hot country” sort of way.

Nashville Guitars is a wonderful idea, one that shouldn’t be dismissed or forsaken, but maybe on the next one less established guitarists with less to lose would turn in more interesting efforts.

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Originally Featured in Issue #32 March-April 2001

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