First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2004, Volume 11, #9
Written by John Metzger
Albert Lee has performed in ensembles backing the likes of Emmylou Harris, Bill Wyman, and Eric Clapton, and when the Everly Brothers reunited in the mid-’80s, it was Lee who served as the duo’s musical director. So, it’s no surprise that Heartbreak Hill — his first solo outing to hit U.S. store shelves in 15 years — is sprinkled with just a touch of the blues even as it masterfully straddles the ground between country and rock. Shaped with the help of his friends — Jerry Douglas, Earl Scruggs, Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, and Vince Gill are just a few of those making their presence known — the set is largely a quiet, understated affair that plays like the most easy-going of outings by Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Yet, buried within the 10 cover tunes — all of which have been a part of Harris’ repertoire for some time — is the type of sterling guitar work on which Lee built his career. His wonderful, intricate, and dextrous style graces tracks like Delbert McClinton’s Two More Bottles of Wine and Crowell’s Bluebird Wine, though the most notable tune is, perhaps, the whirlwind instrumental Luxury Liner, which serves as the album’s breathtaking centerpiece. Indeed, throughout Heartbreak Hill, Lee mixes the right amounts of virtuosity and songcraft, and although his vocals can’t match those of Harris, the album is still a worthy tribute, one that also stands quite well on its own accord. ½
Heartbreak Hill is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box