After tearing it up for 22 years as primary guitarist for NRBQ, Big Al Anderson shifted gears in 1993 and headed to Nashville to make his way as a country songwriter. When Music City finally warmed to Anderson's style, artists lined up around a long city block to record his songs; in the past 13 years, Anderson has co-written with or been covered by Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, Jimmy Buffett, Martina McBride and scores of others.
The one thing Anderson hasn't done too terribly often is turn out a solo album (his debut in 1972, "Party Favors" in 1989, "Pay at the Pump" in 1996), a situation he remedies with the smooth and silky "After Hours."
Like the title implies, this is populated with songs that drift and hang in the air like cigarette smoke in a crowded roadhouse. Anderson translates his work in a variety of ways, from a Charlie Rich countrypolitan vein ("Love Make a Fool of Me") to Memphis gospel/soul ("Right on Time") to Texas swing ("Movin' Into the Light") to twangy pop ("Trip Around the Sun") to John Prine-touched folk pop ("It's Only Natural") to swinging blues ("Blues About You Baby"). If you want to rock out, slap on your old 'Q sides and dance until you're sore, but if you're ready to slip into something a little more soulful, Big Al's soundtrack for closing down the clubs is just the tonic.