Jim Campilongo may have been influenced by country musicians such as Speedy West, but American Hips probably isn't what people who are unfamiliar with Campilongo's oeuvre would expect from a country record. There isn't someone like pedal steel player Joe Goldmark (who appeared on some of Campilongo's previous recordings) around to remind people of Campilongo's country roots; instead, Campilongo has teamed up with drummer Dan Rieser (Norah Jones, Bert Seager, Stephan Crump) and bassist Tim Luntzel (Arkadia Jazz All-Stars), both of whom have backgrounds in jazz. Furthermore, jazz vocalist Norah Jones appears on two tracks (the only ones that aren't instrumentals): the Don Gibson standard "Sweet Dreams" and the Campilongo original (with lyrics by Kurt Stevenson and Kate Maher) "Stella." Meanwhile, Campilongo's Telecaster playing alternates between twangy, bluesy, bouncy, soulful, ominous (particularly on the impressive "Cat Under a Car"), and sedate (particularly on the dull cover version of the Beatles' "Michelle"). Campilongo deserves credit for not having a cookie-cutter sound, and he demonstrates that playing skillfully but simply with both feeling and restraint is better than getting carried away with ostentatious displays of technique. All of the album's tracks were recorded live in the studio, which probably contributes to the spontaneity of the performances; both Campilongo's knack for writing offbeat melodies and his rhythm section's ace support help make this album a pleasant listening experience.
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AllMusic Review by Todd Kristel