Anderson's Pleasurable "After Hours"
T. Yap | Sydney, NSW, Australia | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Prime Cuts: Do Nothin' Day, Love Make a Fool of Me, Better Word for Love
Veneered with a sepia-tone ruminative gloss that throws back to the days of yore where songs were more than just three and a half minute of noise, Anderson's first CD in ten years, "After Hours" is a stunning effort. Unlike his previous CD "Pay before You Pump" or those NRBQ's albums of which Anderson was the guitarist, the music here is not barrelhouse rock. Rather, at the risk of being reductionistic, this collection as the title suggests is a collection of mellow country songs largely designed for a saloon swooning in the wee hours of the morning. Such a rustic orientation should not come as a surprise for, of late, Anderson has become one of Nashville's most sought after writer, penning songs recorded by Tanya Tucker ("You Don't Do It"), Trisha Yearwood ("Powerful Thing"), Diamond Rio ("Unbelievable"), Alabama and Jann Arden ("Will You Marry Me") among others.
Teaming with Jeffrey Steele and Bob DiPero, Anderson has crafted the opener "Love Make a Fool of Me." Here he sets the pace for the album as "Love Make a Fool of Me" has a languid lite-jazz feel augmented by some tasty steel moans and delightful sounding piano. As most singer-songwriters would do, Anderson reprises a couple of his own hits he has had written for others. "Better Word for Love," which first was recorded by NRBQ and later Alabama, is perhaps one of the most gorgeous attempts at trying to capture the true essence of love. Anderson truly has the uncanny ability of alchemizing such a simple sounding melody into a soul-catching song. The other cover is the more upbeat Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride hit "Trip around the Sound." Though Anderson gruff and sometimes limited ranged vocal is no match for the melismatic Martina McBride, "Trip Around the Sun" has such an affecting melody that it's hard to muff.
Anderson vacates the microphone for two of his fellow songwriters on a couple of tracks. Sharon Vaugh appears as a guest vocalist on the showstopper "Do Nothin' Day." "Do Nothin' Day" a gorgeously written jazz-slanted ballad with its superior sounding musical construction, sounds like it's a freeze-frame resonance to those Cole Porter days. While Tia Sellers who has a more mellifluent vocals compared to Vaugh, sings lead on "What's a Thousand Miles," a Conway-Twitty-like ballad about the unmitigated power of love over the trifles of life.
However, lest one thinks Anderson has altogether become mellow in his primal season, he does join with Delbert McClinton in penning "Blues about You Baby," a surging blues number that is as crusty as the delta in the middle of July. Other than the presence of the unnecessary instrumental "Interlude," there's nothing much to repine about. With the years of experience as a singer and writer, Anderson has become the paragon of expressing the deep intricate details of the heart. Like vintage wine, this is a CD that deserves repeated listening in order to savor the texture, the taste and the maturation of the softer side of Anderson.