Paying homage to a legend like the late Chet Atkins is a tall order, especially when the man who forever shaped Nashville's musical landscape happened to be a close friend and mentor. So it's not all that surprising Steve Wariner's latest album, a 10-song tribute to Atkins, who died in 2001, hits the high notes musically but is a bit over the top when it comes to his reverence for his one-time hero.
Wariner's silky smooth picking has seldom sounded better. After all, Atkins dubbed Wariner a "c.g.p." - certified guitar player - and is among the finest pickers to grace a country stage. Reeding Out Loud is Wariner's tribute to both Atkins and Jerry Reed (he also includes a largely incomprehensible version of When You're Hot You're Hot on the otherwise gorgeous Producer's Medley). Wariner's really at home on the jazzy Tuned In and picks the heck out of Chet's Guitar, which actually sounds a lot like Hank Jr.'s Born to Boogie.
Perhaps the liner notes could have been written by someone other than Wariner to explain why he's a "c.g.p."- a title Atkins bestowed upon a select few guitarists. A couple less "mugging the camera" shots with Atkins would have helped too.
Still, understandable that Wariner's emotions get caught up in the whole tribute thing to his mentor and close friend. But once the picking starts, it sounds like Atkins is playing right along with his protege.