Jack Lee

Into the Night

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There's only one way I can figure that Hilary James's spaced out songs and airy vocals got on guitarist Lee's otherwise spiffy, artistically challenging and easy going down album. It must have been part of a deal Lee made to get the familiar cool keyboard energy of her father, Bob James, on his album. It makes for a hit and miss tradeoff. While the elder James keeps pace with Lee's brisk, Methenyesque strokes using the unique, muted textures of the Sadowsky Nylon Strings on the opening and best track "Nevis," and adds eloquence to the rhythmic light funk on "You Understand," Hilary's plaintive new ageyness are grossly out of place and drag down the momentum built by Lee's effective mix of pleasurable bounce and thoughtful reflection. That's why CD programming buttons were invented, however, and concentrating on the pertinent tracks brings some eclectic rewards, from the haunting film score-like "Soledad" to the moody Brazilian flavored duet Lee does with keyboardist Rachel Z. Lee's guitarisma is undeniable, and as a producer, he shows that he knows how to use vocals on instrumental albums - as wordless enhancements (courtesy of Mark Ledford) to some of his best tunes.

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