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Albert Lee - Road Runner
Review By Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

Road Runner is a very appropriate title for this solo release of Albert Lee. The man is the king of tele players enduring a long tenure, a country picker from England no less. Lee's first hot American gig after playing in England for many years was with the famous hot band of Emmy Lou Harris. He has influenced many a telecaster picker with his twangy tones, sweet fills and flat out kickin' solos. This CD is very eclectic with Lee also singing some great songs.

His band is himself on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin and keyboards. His co-producer Steve Fishell plays lap steel on a couple of songs. The executive producer is his wife Karen. Legend and friend Buddy Emmons on pedal steel, Buddy Miller and Jon Randall sing backup vocals on a couple of tracks. My only beef is the mix is over compressed a bit in the mastering process by Jim Demain of Yes Master. The levels on my stereo are maxed out a lot which makes for some distortion and lack of dynamics, but the music here is much more than an over db-ed disc.

A very good selection of songs and Lee's vocals surprised me as I didn't know what to expect. Overall this is an Americana sounding record and the Americana chart is where you will find it. What this record is about is Albert Lee tearing it up on his tele, it is interesting to hear him play piano and guitar on the same track. He is an excellent pianist.
Let's zoom in on some songs:

"The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" (Jimmy Webb) - This is a beautiful ballad with some great acoustic guitar, mandolin and Emmons on steel. The song really pulls you in. Lee's vocals sound great here, very animated and into the song.

"Livin' It Down" (Delbert McClinton) - Mid tempo country rocker, honky tonker, great backup vocals, some great guitar by Lee, he plain works it out, what command of the guitar this man has as he jumps up and down the fretboard melodically and effortlessly. This whole CD has a live quality to it, after some tracks, you can hear some laughter. "Had my ducks in a row and she shot em".

"Working On Love" (Keith Sewell) - A hot fast paced rockabilly number. This might have some of his hottest pickin' as he trades off riffs with steel player Emmons. Reminds me of an up tempo Vince Gill song. Great lyrics "Don't get so downhearted, we're under construction".

"Peyote Blues" (Albert Lee) - This is a fast paced instrumental that is seven minutes long. The bass of Bob Glaub is great here. Lee and Buddy Emmons are featured, mostly the intensely focused Lee on guitar playing in a zone. Lee is still at the top of his game. Brent Mason, Brent Rowan, Vince Gill and later Brad Paisley definitely have been influenced by this world renowned picker.

Possibly the last track is the best "Dimming Of The Day" (Richard Thompson) - A slow paced duet with Alexandra Lee, just a pretty melody with sweet delivery and the vocals are great.

Albert Lee is the consummate guitarist and a great interpreter of songs. Though most of his work is done for others like Patty Loveless's last CD Dreamin' My Dreams, Lee is more than sufficient on his own. Although not country radio material, it does have some Grammy stuff on it. If you like hot electric country pickin' and Americana music, this disc is a real winner.

Release Date: 4/11/06 

Related Links:
Sugar Hill Records 

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