ALBUM REVIEW: Vince Gill – “Guitar Slinger”

Vince Gill Guitar Slinger
Year of the Album — #079
Vince Gill – “Guitar Slinger” (2011, MCA Nashville)

Vince Gill may have spent a lot of effort and professional capital on These Days, the massive four-disc set of all new material he issued back in 2006, but that set did conclusively show how broad his tastes really are. Now that he’s pushed the envelope, he’s chosen to maintain the forward momentum of those discs musically, while paring things down and focusing on a much more straightforward sound as a whole.

The result, on Guitar Slinger, is his best work in years, a fully focused effort which showcases why Gill remains one of the most interesting voices in country music. “Tell Me Fool” has a Gospel-meets-Country vibe which gives Gill’s voice room to soar even as he gives ample room to his fellow musicians to shine equally in the spotlight. The title track suggests he’s got plenty more rock in his veins as well, via a honky-tonk romp which should burn up the country charts. And “True Love,” featuring Amy Grant on guest vocals, is the kind of adult-contemporary crossover track country acts used to do all so well before the emphasis shifted toward younger, poppier demographics.

Guitar Slinger is a refreshing album from a veteran songwriter who is willing to let his experience as a performer over three decades in the business speak for itself. He’s proven to be a top-notch performer in the bluegrass, country and gospel genres, and this album pushes him one step closer to “elder statesman” status in the genre, and he’s definitely earned the distinction. Five years may seem a long time to wait for new material, but Gill, now a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, has proven that when it comes to his music, patience is a virtue well rewarded.

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