Album Review

Vince Gill - The Key

Vince Gill - The Key

For better or worse -- and it's better, honest -- this is as good an album as Music Row is capable of making. Vince Gill has a smooth voice to go with his smooth looks; he also has a background in bluegrass to match a stint with a late incarnation of Pure Prairie League. Singing songs he mostly wrote with nobody looking over his shoulder, Gill is supported by some of the finest singers (Sara Evans, Lee Ann Womack, Shelby Lynne, Patty Loveless, Alison Krauss, Faith Hill) and players in Nashville. Even producer Tony Brown, who is busy and professional enough to phone in a competent job, stays unobtrusively focused. If country really is to be the new pop music format, and the voice of the suburbs, Gill at least manages to connect that present to its past, and with more than a little emotion and elegance. The emotion is a bit of a surprise, for he has such naturally easy tone and phrasing one doesn't quite expect the songs to cry when they should. Ah, but they do, notably on "Kindly Keep It Country" and the homage to his late father, "The Key To Life". Even the obligatory chorus-heavy "Let Her In" -- in which a father asks his daughter to make room for a new girlfriend in his life -- fairly ripples with unexpected honesty. And that, pun unintended, is the key. Despite his gifts and his success (and, yes, it seems odd that those two words should be linked to the implication of compromise, but they are), this has the feel of an honest record, and one suspects the all-star supporting cast truly enjoyed their days in the studio this time.
Artist Vince Gill
Album The Key
Label Mca
Author Grant Alden
Other tags Issue #18