Just months prior to the near-fatal auto accident that derailed his musical career, Hank Garland completed the lovely Velvet Guitar, an LP as smooth and rich as its title portends. Earthy yet urbane, Garland's signature guitar sound translates the emotional intimacy of country music into the cerebral sensibilities of jazz, a sleight of hand that retains its mystery and potency decades after the fact. Namecheck all the influences you wish, from Charlie Christian to Les Paul and beyond, but the simple fact remains that no one else has ever made music that sounds quite like this. A beautiful record made almost unbearably bittersweet by the tragedy lurking just around the corner.
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