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Various Artists

Nashville Guitars – 2000 (Nuance)

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

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CDs by Various Artists

This disk of instrumentals from Nashville's pickers is a delight for anyone who has ever taken the time to read the credits of their favorite mainstream country albums. These 11 songs and accompanying booklet help take the anonymity from Nashville session pickers. A careful listen is essential to understanding the contribution these musicians have made to contemporary country.

The music itself is a pretty standard brand of twangy fusion, definitely built more around chops than songs. That consistency threatens to rob the players of their charisma, so it helps to approach each cut individually. Treat it like a dictionary - look up your favorite player when questions arise, or casually peruse it for a quick lesson in guitar pyrotechnics.

There are definitely fireworks around every turn. Picking favorites is nearly impossible, but occasional idiosyncrasies do rear their heads. Jim Olander's amazing use of two Parsons-White string benders (one on the strap, one attached to his belt loops) makes "Less Taste/More Filling" a quirky, unpredictable ride. Memphis vet Reggie Young gives reason for his constant presence on the scene with "Exit 209," the most thoughtful and purely musical performance here. But each cut is blessed with some musical lesson...listen and learn.