This is an all instrumental CD with an overall Jazzy blues feel to it. Most of the tunes were written by Steve Cunningham. The songs are a mix of styles and tones and this CD would be hard to pin down as one style. Guitars range from electric guitar to lap steel to slide dobro to acoustic lap steel or combinations of guitars. Cunningham is certainly
an excellent guitar player with more to say than a few overused blues licks. The music is tasteful and never overbearing. There's quite a bit of steel guitar work on this CD. I've started to notice that steel guitar is starting to make a comeback. More and more blues guys are starting to pick it up. Maybe it's because you can pick up old instruments fairly cheaply and get a great sound out of them.
The CD opens up with 'BruddaBru', a self penned song with a jazzy beat all played on an electric guitar. Much of the song is based around harmonic arpeggios that ring up the neck of the guitar alternating with a syncopated picking and slightly outside notes. 'Dubious Tones' sounds like something from the big band era thats been stripped down to a minimalist combo approach. Thrown into this is lap steel work which sounds like a cross between horn style and Hawaiian lap steel. The mix of horns (trumpet and trombone) and lap steel is interesting. 'Hemp' is just what it would remind you of. Very spacey acoustic lap steel sound with percussion that sounds like it escaped from a 60's hippy flick. 'Sphere's Blues' starts out as a lurching old style dobro blues instrumental. After about a minute, the bass kicks in with a solid groove, and it changes into a more jazzy blues combo sound. 'Busted Lip' is one of the more rocking tunes on the CD. It reminds me a bit of Steely Dan in its sound and keyboard backing. There's some really good electric guitar and lap steel guitar work here. 'The Creeping Man' is a slow instrumental that reminds me a bit of those Santo & Johnny tunes from the late 50's and 60's mixed with some bluesey acoustic slide guitar work. 'Backtalk' starts out with a strong medium tempo bass grove. This is a laid back grove tune with the lap steel taking front stage. 'She Never Knew' is another slow song with soulful guitar work that rises and falls to peaks and valleys. Nothing overdone but very tasteful.
Bottom Line: This is a nice CD of instrumental tunes. Those looking for hot rod blues guitar should look elsewhere. Those who appreciate clean tasteful instrumental guitar work should really like this release. Musically, the playing styles are all over the place with a mix of traditional blues, jazzy sounds and a little Hawaiian style thrown in for good measure. Overall I would give this CD two stars out of four.
Steve Cunningham - electric guitar, dobro, lap steel
Brian Hall - upright bass
Mike Haid - drums
Randy Hoexter - keys
Bob Lewis - trumpet, trombone
David Silverman - percussion
Sam Skelton - tenor sax
Web site: www.stevecunningham.net
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