After a period of recording with Fourplay in the late '90s, Larry Carlton comes back under his own name with a collection that is typically both tantalizing and frustrating. It's tantalizing in that you get flashes and streaks of what this extremely gifted and eloquent guitarist can do when the material is good enough to inspire him. It's frustrating, however, because there isn't enough of it; Carlton can only do so much with the weak-to-middling tunes that take up the majority of the disc. Nevertheless, the title cut is a fine example of the smooth jazz genre at its most ingratiating, with a nice groove and tasty guitar work. "Slave Song" is even better, spangled with intriguing instrumental touches (including the multitracked saxes of Kirk Whalum); some great, funky octave work right in the pocket; and most unusually in the smooth jazz arena, a passionate instrumental chorus on the way to the fade. "Gracias," a Latin-flavored acoustic-guitar duet between Carlton and country music's Vince Gill, may be the album's masterpiece; together, the two create the disc's most beautiful tunes and licks, evoking memories of Chet Atkins' best celebrity duo sessions. Too often, though, the disc settles for the mediocre and the innocuous, the most obvious example being "'Til I Hurt You," an undistinguished tune carefully tooled for airplay, featuring the indecipherably mumbled vocals of Michael McDonald. Yet Fingerprints' best stuff, in addition to Carlton's sterling efforts to make the rest come alive, redeems the package.
by Richard S. Ginell
|9||Larry Carlton feat: Vince Gill||06:11||SpotifyAmazon|