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Steve Wariner

Guitar Laboratory – 2011 (Selectone)

Reviewed by JP Tausig

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CDs by Steve Wariner

Grammy winner Steve Wariner explores the range of guitar sounds, and from jazz to Honky Tonk and on into acoustical finger-picking, the range is impressive.

Tele Kinesis is a hard driving picking tune in a twangy "chicken pickin'" style that's clearly rooted in the '70s though new. At the other end of the spectrum are songs like Sugarfoot Rag that Wariner plays on a nylon-string guitar as part of a duet with Leon Rhodes.

A strong classical influence emerges on songs like Crafty, which is Wariner on a classical guitar, though the tune is a blues-sounding song that makes you really listen.

While exploring different guitar styles and sounds, there's always the common thread of Chet Atkins style jazz. This is not surprising as Wariner played often with Atkins, with Wariner winning his Grammy for an Atkins tribute album.

Here you'll find rhythms, bass riffs and clean guitar sounds. Many of the songs are Wariner original, and on songs like Goody 2 Shoes, Wariner plays all the instruments himself. He even brings in his son Ross Wariner to play on I Will Never Forget You, an homage to an American soldier at the end of World War II.

Some elements, like the drum riffs, or the accordion or even the scattered vocals from the musicians as they play, might be distracting. But there's a lot worth listening to on this album, and it will wear well especially for jazz-guitar fans.