By John Lindsay –
There are few voices in music that are more instantly recognizable than Vince Gill’s. For as long as I can remember, his music has been a part of my life, from my early days in radio in the 80’s and classic songs like “Oklahoma Borderline” and “Victim of Life’s Circumstances” through a string of more than 50 hit singles and more recently as part of the Time Jumpers. Vince is a virtuoso instrumentalist, bluegrass aficionado, and one of the most versatile and enduring representatives of country music in the last 30 or so years. His new album, his first solo album since 2011, “Down To My Last Bad Habit” is out now and is a testament to the enduring appeal of his sound. It is an audio feast of meaningful songs, tasty licks, soulful soaring highs, a dash of blues, an amazing jazz trumpet, a few special guests, and a final track dessert of straight ahead country. This collection features everything that you love about love. While not intentional there is a common theme around this Valentine’s Day release. Love, and loss of love, has been a rich source of inspiration throughout his career and this album is no different.
Perhaps my favorite song on the new album is one he wrote for his wife, Amy Grant, some 15 or 16 years ago called “I’ll be Waiting for You.” It is a classic simple love song featuring a great guitar run throughout and special guest vocals from one of my favorite new ladies of country, Cam. Also on the more positive side of love, you’ll find “Like My Daddy Did,” the Netflix and chill tune “My Favorite Movie,” and the great rolling two step sound of “Me and My Girl.” There is also the very Fleetwood Mac sounding “Take Me Down” featuring backing vocals from Grammy Winners Little Big Town, and the oh so bluesy “Make You Feel Real Good.”
But let’s be honest, no one breaks a heart quite like Vince. From the classics, “Never Knew Lonely” and “When I Call Your Name” you knew there’d be a couple of trips to broken hearstville (sorry Joe Nichols) on this album. His trip down the “lonely road” includes “One More Mistake I Made,” which features an amazing & heartbreaking jazz trumpet juxtaposed with great brush work on the drums. Then there is the run-into-the-ex-and-her-new-guy ballad “I Can’t Do This.” Less heartbreaking in delivery but also on the not good side of goodbye is “Reasons for the Tears I Cry.”
And then there’s the finale: a straight-ahead old school country waltz song for one of his heroes and friends the great George Jones. “Sad One Comin’ On (A Song for George Jones)” is a heartfelt tribute to the Possum, which few today would be able, or even dare try to deliver.
Vince Gill blends influences, styles, and emotions like no one else can and it is on full display throughout this album. The only real sad part is that since he’s not 25 you probably won’t get to hear a lot of it on today’s radio. I can’t suggest strongly enough to you to go out and find this album. It’s both classic and contemporary country from one of the true living legends of music.
Vince is currently doing an acoustic tour of stories and songs with another of my bucket list singer/songwriters, Lyle Lovett. And since I’m going tomorrow…
…And we’re back. Quite literally, just back from the show and it couldn’t have been a better night of music and stories from two friends of 30+ years. Vince “opened for Lyle” with his classic “One More Last Chance” while Lyle politely sat and enjoyed. Next up Lyle introduced his first number of the night as the “same song” and launched into “My Baby Don’t Tolerate.” Now Vince played guitar and sang harmonies during Lyle’s prompting the exchange
LL: “I have to tell you tonight my band is way better than yours,”
VG: “(laughing) well at least we know you’re still playing with a large band…” (laughing)
Now while the music was certainly the highlight, it was these sly exchanges between the longtime friends that really made this show special. We learned the stories behind some of their biggest hits, stories of Vince’s father, Lyle’s story of his early days in Texas, and the story behind Vince’s huge hit “Whenever You Come Around” which he wrote about his first meeting his now wife Amy Grant. The format, no set lists just stories and songs, triggered a few great juxtaposed moments; Vince sings “It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips at Night, That Chewed Your Ass Out All Day Long” and followed it by telling the story of finishing that song he started so long ago with his father, and playing it that day for his wife Amy, “you know one of the greatest Christian Music singers alive.” Which was followed seamlessly by Lyle’s hit from his Pontiac album “She’s No Lady.”
Vince did 2 songs from his new album from our previous paragraph, lol. He sang the title track and followed up at the insistence of Lyle with the closing song from the album “A Sad One Comin’ On (A Song for George Jones)” which included a great story of touring with George and Conway back in 1990. This format for me works so well 2 guys with great senses of humor and timing singing their songs and telling stories and jokes looking back over their careers. It was honest, it was funny, and it was perfectly delivered, both men at the top of their game vocally in a small theater setting ending a 2 week run of these shows. It was one amazing, entertaining, bucket list quality, 2 ½ hours of music and memories that I’m privileged to say I got to see.