Big Al Anderson

After Hours (Sony / Legacy)

SXSW Records

Big Al Anderson

After Hours (Sony/Legacy)

Musician magazine nailed it in naming Big Al Anderson one of the Top 100 guitarists of the 20th century, right before Anderson left NRBQ after 22 years of blazing chicken-pickin'-fused mischief and melodic pop six-string genius. After Hours showcases Anderson's second act as a go-to Nashville songwriter, featuring his versions of hits he helped write for Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride ("Trip Around the Sun") and a softer side on crooner ballads "Better Word for Love" and "Love Make a Fool of Me." Hints of Anderson's Q days surface in the upbeat, bluesy country-tinged tracks "Blues About You Baby" (a Delbert McClinton co-write) and "It's Only Natural," but Anderson has far better songs in his catalog than the slight throwaways "Do Nothin' Day" and "Let's Get Away for the Weekend." He still sings like a bird, which makes cameos from a pair of female vocalists maddening, and it's hard not to pine for one of his signature Telecaster blasts to give the acoustic, jazzy feel of After Hours a needed jolt. Better to catch his live act, featuring a crack band including SRV keyboardist Reese Wynans, where Anderson will surely let rip more of the fretboard fireworks that longtime aficionados still miss. (Friday, March 17, 9pm @ Parish)

**.5

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