Vince Gill

Next Big Thing – 2003 (MCA)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

CDs by Vince Gill

Vince Gill has nothing to be bitter about in the face of his declining success. His mantle groans with over a dozen Grammys and a boatload of CMA statues, and then there's the matter of 22 million in sales over the course of his career. If the massive hits are fewer and farther between, it's onlynatural in an industry that's always looking toward a youthful fire to stokeits furnace.

And that's essentially the message that Gill sends with The Next Big Thing. On the choogling roadhouse romp of the title track, Gill tongue-in-cheekily announces his plans to "lose a little weight and get a belly button ring" torecover his lost status, but on the mature reflection of "Young Man's Town, "he knowingly admits "even though you built it, it's a young man's town." And there's plenty of Gill's patented heart-tugging balladry ("She Never MakesMe Cry," "These Broken Hearts") to prove he's still got the syrup for yourbuckwheats.

Gill produces himself for the first time, and the album's success is due in no small measure to the caliber of talent he surrounds himself with on Next Big Thing, particularly former NRBQ guitarist Al Anderson and some of the finest harmonists in the business (Emmylou Harris, Lee Ann Womack, wife Amy Grant). Although the old man goes on a bit (the album's over an hour), VinceGill's grace in understanding his place in the music world is the qualitythat makes "Next Big Thing" not just a potential hit, but a great addition to his canon.