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Rich O'Brien

Seasons, Roads, and Faces – 1998 (Western Jubilee)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Rich O'Brien

The Fort Worth-based guitarist Rich O'Brien has appeared on dozens of records over the years by the likes of Don Edwards, Riders In the Sky and John McEuen, quietly establishing his name among cowboy music and western swing fans.

O'Brien's first solo effort is a mixed bag of styles: a little bit of Django Reinhardt-influenced jazz here ("Swing 42" and "The Gypsy's Djewelry"), a taste of western swing there ("Big Sky Bounce"), some original numbers and a few tasteful renditions of traditional favorites, including "There's an Old Spinning Wheel (In the Parlor)" and "I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time," the album's only number with vocals, provided by ex-Asleep at the Wheel singer Chris O'Connell.

O'Brien's playing - limited here to acoustic guitar - is never less than tasteful. There's no showboating going on. No one is going to be knocked out by O'Brien's speed or fire, but that's not that point here. Discerning listeners will be impressed with O'Brien's taste and talent, which is apparent on every number.