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Vince Gill

These Days – 2006 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Vince Gill

To put this release into perspective, it would take Axl Rose the better half of a century to issue the same amount of material. Fortunately, Vince Gill is about as prolific as they come these days, and this daring four-disc release only is further proof of that. Each disc is divvied up depending on his mood, with the opening "Working On A Big Chill" album being "The Rockin' Record."

And this album sets things off right with the lovely mid-tempo and groovy title track. From there, songs like the soul-tinged "Love's Standin'" and the bluesy, moody "Cowboy Up" with Gretchen Wilson are incredibly strong. The same can be said for the rockabilly-based "Sweet Thing." Meanwhile, Rodney Crowell drops by for the boogie-riddled "Nothin' For A Broken Heart."

Gill is at home regardless of the genre, with Michael McDonald stopping by for another little gem, "Smilin' Song." Gill then jumps off into album two "The Reason Why" ("The Groovy Record"). Here, Gill again dips back into a rather surefire adult contemporary pop feel with "What You Don't Say" featuring LeAnn Rimes.

The lineup of duets is a who's who of music, whether it's Alison Krauss on the slow, old-school doo wop of "The Reason Why" or Sheryl Crow lending her voice to the gorgeous "What You Give Away." Unfortunately, Diana Krall's help with the lounge-y "Faint Of Heart" doesn't quite measure up. It's soon forgotten when Gill shines with Trisha Yearwood on the tender, reflective "This Memory Of You." However, it gets a bit sappy with the closing "These Days."

The only album where things sound just a hair forced is "Some Things Never Grow Old" ("The Country & Western Record") Although Gill sounds fine on the mid-tempo "This New Heartache," it all comes off just a bit too slick or polished. Yet even these numbers come off equally stellar, including the swinging "Don't Pretend With Me," the classic country of "The Sight Of Me Without You" or "Out Of My Mind" with Patty Loveless. However, the highlight here has to be "Some Things Never Get Old" with Emmylou Harris off in the distance with a close second being Phil Everly helping out on "Sweet Little Corrina."

Gill downplays his picking for the opening three albums, but it is fire and brimstone for the frantic "All Prayed Up," the first track off "Little Brother" ("The Acoustic Album") Picking his brains out on the leadoff bluegrass ditty enables Gill to feel at home doing what he does best. The Del McCoury Band guests on the strolling, melodic "Cold Gray Light Of Gone" and later on for the rambling "Give Me The Highway."

It's not all bluegrass here, as the tender, singer-songwriter "Ace Up Your Pretty Sleeve" and the slow, murky and blues-tinged "Molly Brown" sounds like it was done in one take. And Guy Clark guests on the closing "Almost Home."

Overall, it's strange that Vince Gill has outdone himself with basically a box set of outstanding new material.