Birds Above Guitarland
Little Dog Records
Anderson is better known in the country music
and roots-rock business from his long association
with artists list Dwight Yoakam, Roy Orbison,
Lucinda Wiliams, and others. But he's gaining a
solid reputation in the blues world, as heard
previously on his 2010 album, Even Things Up
His newest, Birds Above Guitarland (Little
Dog Records), reinforces Anderson's versatility and
love of the blues genre. Anderson plays all of the
guitar parts as well as adding bass on most cuts.
Many of the same backing musicians return, led by
keyboard player Michael Murphy, to create one of the
stronger blues discs of the year.
Birds Above Guitarland kicks off with a nice
shuffle, "Outta' The Fire," that showcases a strong
horn section featuring Lee Thornberg on trumpet and
Ron Dzibula on sax. The upbeat, soulful "36 Hour
Day," with good keyboard accompaniment, follows;
it's one of the best cuts here. We can identify with
Anderson here in that we all need more time every
day to appreciate and take care of those we love the
"Talkin' My Baby Down" is a bluesy shuffle that
would also go over well in any country dance hall,
with Anderson making his instrument sound almost
like a steel guitar along with Murphy's honky tonk
piano. One of his guitar solos here even made me
think of the late guitar legend Danny Gatton, an
ultimate compliment to any player out there.
"Empty Everything" has a bit of a Cajun sound thanks
to Dennis Gurwell's tasteful accordion playing, but
Anderson's guitar work keeps it strongly on the
blues side. James Cruce's dirty drumming with
brushes adds a nice backline.
Anderson slows it down with the late night blues of
"I Got Mine," with the horn section taking it uptown
to provide a nice contrast to his tasteful
jazzy guitar work.
The absolute highlight of Birds Above Guitarland
comes late in the lineup, with two excellent
versions of a snaky, mid-tempo blues, "Rock In My
Shoe," both of which feature Anderson's surprisingly
good chromatic harmonica playing. Great lyrics here
--- "... put a rock in my shoe, try to get back with
you, I put a rock in my shoe, got a lot of walking,
got a lot of walking to do ..." Anderson handles the
vocals on version one of this number, but the real
treat is when special guest Bekka Bramlett arrives
to do the singing on version two.
Nested between the two versions of "Rock In My Shoe"
is a killer instrumental number, "Red Sunset Blues,"
which could easily be used as the theme music for a
Quentin Tarantino-style western. Murphy really gets
to stretch out with a lot of special effects from
his Wurlitzer as well as playing some very nice
piano. But what really puts the icing on this cake
is Thornberg's french horn playing.
Pete Anderson has another winner with Birds Above
Guitarland. Just like his previous CD, it gets
better the more times you listen to it.