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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Vince Gill

These Days

Review by Gary Hill

It’s not often that an artist tries so hard to produce a quality product that they wind up releasing a four CD set – at least not one of all new material. It’s also not often that an artist assembles a release that captures the essence of all their musical moods and interests. It really seems that Vince Gill has succeeded in both of those. Each disc showcases a different side to Gill’s music and that means there should be something hear to please just about anyone. From the rocking tunes of the first CD to the “groove” of disc two, the pure old time country sounds of the third one or the acoustic flavors of CD four, Gill’s musical vision shines through a slice of genuine talent and Americana. This is one of the most impressive sets I’ve seen in a while.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Little Brother – The Acoustic Record
All Prayered Up
This is a major fast paced acoustic, bluegrass religious cut. It’s kind of fun.
Cold Gray Light Of Gone (Featuring The Del McCoury Band)
More traditional bluegrass, I’d have to say that this doesn’t work very well for this reviewer.
A River Like You (Guest Vocalist: Jenny Gill)
Still very much based in a down-home tradition, this is a mellow ballad that has a lot more charm than the previous number.  
Ace Up Your Pretty Sleeve
Here we get a country ballad that’s rather pretty and quite gentle. This has some minor echoes of Bob Dylan at times.
Molly Brown
I like this one a lot. While the overall musical concept doesn’t differ that much from the track that comes before it, this one is really a strong number with some great layers of sound creating an intriguing mood.
Girl (Guest Vocalist: Rebecca Lynn Howard)
Another strong one, this has a more traditional country feel to it, but also some wonderful tones and moods. This (and the previous track) are two of my favorites from the disc. 
Give Me The Highway (Featuring The Del McCoury Band)
Another bluegrass cut, this one is high energy and quite entertaining.
Sweet Augusta Darlin'
Here we get another down home country hoe-down type song, but with a balladic feel to it.
Little Brother
This is a pretty stripped down (just an acoustic guitar and voice) ballad. It has a folky tone along with the country elements.
Almost Home (Duet with Guy Clark)
Another pretty ballad, this one is quite melancholy in tone. It’s powerful and one of the best on the disc (in fact one of the best on all four CD’s), making it a great choice to close out the set. 
Some Things Never Get Old – The Country & Western Record
This New Heartache
As one might imagine based on the theme of this disc, this cut is a down home country number. It feels like it could have come from any number of artists that might have been featured on the old “Hee Haw” TV series.
The Only Love
This one is slower and more measured. It’s every bit as much old school country, but I have to admit that I like the sound on this one quite a bit better than the last track.
Out Of My Mind (Guest Vocalist: Patty Loveless)
The rhythmic structure to this reminds me of the “boom ba dida” of “Happy Trails.” It’s another down home country cut.
The Sight of Me Without You
It’s another slower number this time around and it works pretty well.
I Can’t Let Go (Guest Vocalists: Alison Krauss & Dan Tyminski)
I like the piano based theme of this one. While this doesn’t feel modern by any sense of the word, it seems less “old time” than the disc thus far. 
Don’t Pretend With Me
A quick two-step kind of number, this is one of the stronger cuts on this particular disc, but still has a definite old-time, down-home sound. 
Sweet Little Corrina (Guest Vocalist: Phil Everly)
This is a rather rockabilly sort of piece, much like you would expect from one of the Everly Brothers. It’s a cool little shuffle and another highlight of this CD. 
If I Can Make Mississippi (Guest Vocalist: Lee Ann Womack)
Back to the mellower balladic phases, this is another pretty cut and another highlight of this disc.
Take This Country Back (Duet with John Anderson)
Here we get a more powered up piece of music. This one is a bouncing, rocking sort of cut that’s still all cowboy country music. It’s the first satisfying closer to be found on the set. It serves the purpose a final track should – leaves you wanting more.
The Reason Why – The Groovy Record
What You Don't Say (Guest Vocalist: LeAnn Rimes)
Musically this one reminds me just a touch of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You.” That’s more in the progression than the delivery, though, and only in the early segments (and a reprise later). This is a beautiful country rock ballad that’s one of the highlights of the whole collection.
The Reason Why (Guest Vocalist: Alison Krauss)
Here we get a more mellow number that’s still quite pretty and evocative. This has a definite bluesy texture to it. 
The Rock Of Your Love (Guest Vocalist: Bonnie Raitt)
This is another slow tune, but it feels more like a country blues grind.
What You Give Away (Guest Vocalist: Sheryl Crow)
On this track we get more of standard rock ballad. This actually reminds me a bit of George Harrison or Jeff Lynne.
Faint Of Heart (Guest Vocalist: Diana Krall)
A slow, torch jazz song, this is a great change of pace.
Time To Carry On (Guest Vocalist: Jenny Gill)
This is another exceptionally mellow tune, but this time it’s more of a country, folk rock ballad. It powers up into something more powerful as it carries on through the addition of other layers and textures.
No Easy Way
Gill gives us a potent piece of music here that feels more like an energized rock ballad.
This Memory Of You (Guest Vocalist: Trisha Yearwood)
A delicate, but a little too precious, ballad, this one doesn’t work as well in my opinion. It has its moments, but doesn’t hold up to the rest of the material on this particular CD of the set.
How Lonely Looks
A step up, this one is another that feels like a rock ballad, this time a rather soulful and quite inspired one.
Tell Me One More Time About Jesus (Guest Vocalist: Amy Grant)
Another balladic piece, this one has a gospel feel to it, but not overpowering in its texture. 
Everything And Nothing (Guest Vocalist: Katrina Elam)
This powerful piece is part country ballad, part Beatlesish symphonic bombast. It’s one of the strongest cuts on show here. 
Which Way Will You Go
This guitar based ballad has a good chunk of rock in the mix and reminds me a lot of something Garth Brooks might do – particularly on one of his more rocking days. I like this one a lot, too. 
These Days
The final track of disc 2 is another slow and evocative ballad. Again I’m not sure about the placement as a closer, but it’s a good song.
Workin’ On A Big Chill - The Rockin’ Record
Workin' On A Big Chill
This bluesy southern rock jam is one part Eric Clapton, one part John Fogerty, but all Vince Gill. It’s a great way to lead off the festivities.
Love's Standin'
This one has more of a soulful groove with the addition of horns. It drops to more of a rock ballad. The arrangement fills out for the chorus segment with female vocals and more of those horns. While this cut isn’t of the same caliber as the opener, there’s definitely nothing wrong with it. The guitar solo on this one is 100 percent country, but the song overall is more rock and roll. 
Cowboy Up (Guest Vocalist: Gretchen Wilson)
I’m not sure that I’d consider this one a “rockin’” cut, but it’s a great honky tonk, bluesy country jam. This one has some strong old school blues sounds. The blues guitar soloing on this one is extremely tasty.
Sweet Thing
This has some of that Bo Diddley beat and while delivered with a definite country tone also shows off a healthy amount of serious old school rock and roll sound. The horns remain on this cut.
Bet It All On You
Here we get a slightly crunchy rocker that still manages to make good use of the horn arrangement. I can hear Steely Dan and Eric Clapton both on this arrangement with a bit of Buddy Guy thrown in for good measure. This one is a highlight of the disc. It also has some extremely tasty guitar soloing and killer retro keyboard sounds. 
Nothin’ For A Broken Heart (Duet with Rodney Crowell)
Here we get a George Thorogood meets Chuck Berry hard rocking retro sounding tune. There is a healthy dosage of Roy Orbison in the mix on this one, too. The honky tonk piano is purely brilliant. Overall, the musical arrangement on this one is absolutely on fire.
Son Of A Ramblin’ Man (Guest Vocalist: Del McCoury)
Here we get more a country groove, but still delivered with a definite hard rocking sensibility. This one isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t consider it to be a highlight of the disc. 
Smilin’ Song (Guest Vocalist: Michael McDonald)
The bluesy jam that makes this one up has plenty of country in the mix. It’s another that reminds me a bit of Orbison.
The Rhythm Of The Pourin’ Rain (Guest Vocalist: Bekka Bramlett)
Here we get an acoustic based ballad that’s got both a healthy dosage of folk music and plenty of country.
Nothin' Left to Say
A slower acoustic blues groove makes up the basis for this one. This one works reasonably well. I just think it would have benefited from a different slot on the CD. Still, with a four disc set that sort of placement issue becomes rather minor and a bit convoluted.
 
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