Amos Garrett Acoustic Album

Better known for his electric guitar work on myriad studio albums, Amos Garrett has turned off the breaker and put his baritone voice front and centre on this, one of only two acoustic offerings in over 25 years. Choosing classic early to mid-century jazz and blues tracks (Jelly Roll Morton's "Michigan Water Blues,” Hoagy Carmichael's "Hong Kong Blues" and "Small Fry,” and live favourite, Leadbelly's "Grasshopper's In My Pillow"), as well as contemporary fodder from producer Chris Whiteley, Jeff Gutcheon and Garrett himself, the guitarist gives us a fun-loving front parlour meets back porch set as much displaying his jokester personality as his virtuosity on the acoustic. For those that like their blues old — we're talkin' turn of the last century — "Michigan Water Blues" is one of the finest readings around. Faithful to the Morton version, down to the piano transcribed guitar solo, Garrett's ear/tone/skill combine to give us the aural equivalent (to quote the song) of cherry wine. And it's clear the musicians are smiling the whole time. At times the jokes are too much though. In "Sam's Song," for instance, as appealing as it is to have duelling shoe solos, there is entirely too much chatter to set up the joke. Sounding very much like a maladroit version of Chet Atkins’ and Mark Knopfler's "There'll Be Some Changes Made,” Garrett and his partner, Dave Wilkie, should have cut out the banter and stuck to the singing. "I Hate Myself,” as well, is one of the quirky lyrical additions I may have enjoyed more had I been, say, seven years old. (Stony Plain)