Al Anderson

After Hours

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Al Anderson has been playing rock & roll for close to four decades now, so who could blame him if he wanted to take a break from the stuff for a little while? Still best known for his long tenure as the genius guitar picker with NRBQ and now doing business as a successful Nashville tunesmith, Anderson shows off his passion for jazz, Western swing, acoustic country, and smooth ballad crooning on After Hours, and though anyone expecting a replay of the barrelhouse roots rock of 1996's Pay Before You Pump is going to be disappointed, this collection of "Big Al, the Moonlight and You" is a thoroughly pleasurable listen. Given the laid-back nature of the material, Anderson's guitar work is subtle on most of these tunes, but he's solidly in the pocket throughout, and gets to show off a bit on snappy numbers such as "Blues About You Baby," and the songs give him a chance to focus on the romantic and personal side of his lyrical muse, especially on "Trip Around the Sun" and "Another Place I Don't Belong." And if Anderson's vocals confirm he's not exactly Sinatra, he's never less than heartfelt, and he brings a natural warmth to "Love Make a Fool of Me," "Better Word for Love," and "Let's Get Away for the Weekend" that's genuinely winning and fits the material perfectly. After Hours is something of an unexpected detour for Al Anderson, but it collects some fine songs played with skill and soul by a master musician, and in that respect it's in the best tradition of Big Al's work, and fans will enjoy this look at his softer side.

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