Vince Gill 'Guitar Slinger' Album Review
Syndicated review (Philly Inquirer/Sacramento Bee)
VINCE GILL "Guitar Slinger" (MCA Nashville, 3 stars)
Although best known as a balladeer, Vince Gill really is quite the guitar slinger. "Yeah, I might have slowed down a little / But, buddy, I can still bring her," he boasts on the roadhouse romp of a title track.
That's for sure. The material on "Guitar Slinger" allows for some stretching out instrumentally to prove that point. As usual with Gill, however, the playing is in the service of the songs (probably one of the reasons he's not as well-known for his six-string prowess). And beyond that title track, which presents Gill at his loosest and funniest, most of these numbers find the writer and singer his usual soulful self.
If the first single, "Threaten Me With Heaven," doesn't achieve the stirring transcendence he's going for, he gets there with the more low-key "If I Die," which can best be described as a honky-tonk hymn. Other highlights range from the R&B-rooted "Tell Me Fool" (with Bekka Bramlett) to the Haggardesque twang of "Billy Paul" and the more pop-oriented "When Lonely Comes Around."
To drive home the point that Gill's focus is on the songs, "Guitar Slinger" closes not with the sound of the star's ax but with a long steel-guitar solo by Paul Franklin to end "Buttermilk John," a tender tribute to Gill's late steel player, John Hughey.