Vince Gill, "Down To My Last Bad Habit" (MCA Nashville)
Perhaps Vince Gill highlights his Gibson ES-355_the guitar B.B. King made famous_in his new publicity photos and CD artwork for a reason. "Down To My Last Bad Habit," Gill's first album in four years, features plenty of blues tones, sustained notes, and gut-bucket grooves.
A top-tier guitarist, Gill emphasizes that skill on southern roadhouse rockers "Reasons For The Tears I Cry" and "Make You Feel Real Good." His interplay with steel guitarist Paul Franklin highlights the hardcore honky-tonk of "Sad One Comin' On," and he adds evocative notes to the superb love song, "Like My Daddy Did."
No longer sculpting songs for country radio, Gill takes advantage of working outside of genre constraints. He mines sophisticated adult pop on "One More Mistake I Made," featuring trumpeter Chris Botti, and on the Fleetwood Mac-styled "Take Me Down," with harmonies by Little Big Town.
What ties his musical eclecticism together is the tight ensemble work of his hand-selected session players and the range of mature emotions his songs induce. At age 58, Gill knows what he does best — yet he also stretches in ways he couldn't as a young up-and-comer.