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Vince Gill

Down to My Last Bad Habit – 2016 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Vince Gill

At this point in his career, Vince Gill could just as well have entitled this "Tried and True." He's not chasing trends - pop country or bro country - of chart-geared songs. He's too old for that, and at this point anyway, Gill knows what works for him.

And there is quite a lot that works on his first solo album since 2011's "Guitar Slinger." (He did release the excellent "Bakersfield" with Paul Franklin in 2013). Gill prefers a more soulful approach, while not forgetting his roots. The slow burning title track, which percolates as well with slow, steely guitar leads, is a song in point.

Gill is content to mainly keep the pace on the slower side, putting the emphasis on his ever lovely tenor and the musicians. Gill deserves credit since he co-produced along with Justin Niebank.

The lead-off percolating "Reasons for the Tears I Cry" sets the tone with Gill's sweet and soulful vocals, punchy drumming from Steve Jordan and a bit of a bluesy feel as well. He slides into the title track, an urgent romantic ballad in a style that has long befitted Gill ("Like My Daddy Did" and "I Can't Do This"), also on the soulful side. As is Gill's practice, he lets the song breathe musically with a lengthy instrumental coda.

He goes bluesy with "Make You Feel Real Good," which is kicked off by Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson's harp playing.

Gill does a bit of name checking here with Jimmy Dickens on the mid-tempo "Me And My Girl" with Jordan setting a simple, but steady beat, and the very fine closing "Sad One Comin' On (A Song For George Jones)". This is not the usual name checking to establish cred. Gill already has that in spades, and unlike many poseurs seeking to glom onto an artist's rep, Gill is legit. Gill excels on "Sad One...," the only true honky tonker to be found. Gill is perfectly at home on the tonker as he is on the ballads and mid-tempo material.

Gill gets help from Cam ("I'll Be Waiting For You") and Little Big Town ("Take Me Down") on vocals, but there is no doubt that the focal point, as it should be, is on Gill's vocals. The others only provide backing help.

About the only misstep is "One More Mistake I Made." The song, which includes Chris Botti on trumpet, never takes off musically, and the trumpet sounds out of place.

Once again, Gill shows that he's a man of diversity - honky tonk, country ballads, blues - and no dilettante. Gill remains tried and true.