July 29, 2008
Country, Traditional Bluegrass, New Acoustic, Progressive Bluegrass, Bluegrass

Album Review

Night Flyer: The Singer Songwriter Collection features 17 non-instrumental cuts from the pioneering progressive bluegrass/new acoustic guitarist, and as a companion piece to Rounder's 58957: The Bluegrass Guitar Collection, it's a gem. Unlike fellow six-string genius Leo Kottke, Tony Rice actually possesses a decent voice, and though it never reaches the rich, emotional resonance of Gordon Lightfoot (a huge influence), it transcends its natural mediocrity with honest and clarity. Culled from half a dozen or so of his mid-'80s to late-'90s records, the songs are primarily covers of the folk and country variety from artists like Joni Mitchell ("Urge for Going"), Phil Ochs ("Changes"), Mickey Newbury ("Why You Been Gone So Long"), and James Taylor ("Me and My Guitar"), but Rice kicks off the collection with a brand-new, bitter, self-penned bluegrass cooker called "Never Meant to Be." There's a nice piano and vocal version of Tom Waits' "Pony," the second of three previously unreleased cuts, which also include brother Larry Rice's "About Love," a track proving that saxophone solos and good old country waltzes should sleep in separate beds. Throughout it all, Rice shares the load with a who's who of acoustic legends like Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, Sam Bush, Vassar Clements, and more, but it's his effortless musicianship and oddly charismatic delivery that make these "sung" songs difficult to write off, even when comparing them to his phenomenal instrumental work.
James Christopher Monger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Never Meant to Be [#]
  2. Urge for Going
  3. Me and My Guitar
  4. St. James Hospital
  5. John Wilkes Booth
  6. Four Strong Winds
  7. Night Flyer
  8. He Rode All the Way to Texas
  9. About Love [#]
  10. Changes
  11. Sweetheart Like You
  12. Green Light on the Southern
  13. Hard Love
  14. Why You Been Gone So Long
  15. Wayfaring Stranger
  16. Likes of Me
  17. Pony [#]
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