Reviewed by Rev. Keith A. Gordon
Will Kimbrough is one of Nashville's best-kept secrets. An in-demand guitarist who has worked with folks like Rodney Crowell, Jimmy Buffet and Todd Snider, the Americana Music Association chose Kimbrough as "2004 Instrumentalist of the Year." The biggest secret, however, isn't Kimbrough's talents as a musician (which are well documented at this point), but rather his little-known skills as a singer, songwriter and performer. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Kimbrough's third and most personal solo album yet.
"Americanitis" is Kimbrough's reaction to the social and political aftermath of 9-11 and the Iraq War, his politically-charged lyrics delivered with intelligence and humility and an infectious musical mix of Beatlesque pop, roots rock and country twang. Kimbrough tempers the commentary of thoughtful songs like "I Lie," "Pride" and the brilliantly subversive, Brit pop-styled "Less Polite" with explorations of love and human relationships. Whereas "Act Like Nothing's Wrong" offers some timely advice and the Okie blues of "Wind Blowing Change" heralds stormy weather for America, the spry "Enemy" is a rollicking apology to romance gone wrong. "Another Train" is a raucous showcase of Kimbrough's six-string mastery.
Kimbrough has delivered his most fully realized album yet, pulling off a tight-wire act that would send lesser artists over the edge: balancing social commentary with romantic observations and making both equally entertaining.