In an unmatched outpouring of virtuosity and energy, Vince Gill has created a 4-CD set of 43 new and original songs that MCA Records will release Oct. 17 under the title These Days. The collection is an artistic tour de force that displays Gill's mastery of lyrics and musical styles, ranging from traditional country and bluegrass to jazz and rock. To accompany him on this ambitious undertaking, Gill turned both to artists he knew and had worked with before and to those whose music he admired at a distance. "I never try to fill up my records with famous people," Gill says. "I try to fill them up with the most talented people I can find on the face of the earth." By the time the project was completed, that group included Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Rodney Crowell, Phil Everly, the Del McCoury Band, Emmylou Harris, John Anderson, Lee Ann Womack, Jenny Gill, Amy Grant, LeAnn Rimes, Gretchen Wilson, Guy Clark, Trisha Yearwood, Bekka Bramlett, Michael McDonald, steel-guitar master Buddy Emmons and many other musical standouts.
These new recordings of mostly recent Gill compositions are the culmination of a project aimed at recording four distinct albums: rock, romance, vintage honky-tonk, and acoustic. The Rockin' Record
, virtually perfect from start to finish, begins with "Workin' on a Big Chill," its swampy groove straight out of John Fogerty and a showcase for Gill's guitar virtuosity--a groove he resumes on "Cowboy Up," with cameo harmonies from Gretchen Wilson. "Sweet Thing" and a duet with Rodney Crowell on "Nothin' for a Broken Heart" pulsate with Chuck Berry intensity that contrasts with the solid, '60s Memphis groove of "Bet It All on You." The Reason Why
showcases Gill's legendary ease with ballads, several of them enhanced by creative string arrangements by David Campbell (Beck's father), including "What You Don't Say" with LeAnn Rimes and "The Memory of You" with Trisha Yearwood. The stunning "Faint of Heart," a remarkably sultry jazz duet with Diana Krall, could become a standard. Some Things Never Get Old
revisits classic fiddle-steel honky-tonk, music Gill has long reverenced and referenced. "This New Heartache" is straight out of Ray Price. Gill and Patty Loveless tear up "Out of My Mind" and Allison Krauss and Dan Tyminski join in for the waltz "I Can't Let Go." "Don't Pretend with Me" honors Ernest Tubb's honky-tonk primitivism. Little Brother
, all-acoustic and often bluegrass-flavored, shines from beginning to end. Along with "Molly Brown," a stark cautionary about racial violence, Gill sings both "Cold Gray Light of Dawn" and "Give Me the Highway" with the Del McCoury Band. He and Guy Clark close it out with "Almost Home." Despite outstanding past efforts, Gill--one of the top hitmakers of the '90s--hasn't had a Top Ten single since 2000. No matter. His talents and the heart he puts into his writing, singing, and picking remain at their peak. This stellar collection proves it--four times over. --Rich Kienzle