Rusty Anderson

Undressing Underwater

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When you've done a lot of work as a session player, you learn to get good at a lot of different things, and for over 20 years Rusty Anderson has been playing guitar with a dizzying variety of artists, ranging from Cher and Ricky Martin to k.d. lang and Paul McCartney. So once the guy finally goes into the studio and cuts an album all his own, it's no great surprise that the results are, to say the least, a bit eclectic; Undressing Underwater is rooted in hard rock guitars as well as the quirkier avenues of 1960s pop, sounding too hard and chunky for power pop but with a rich and imaginative melodic undertow that reveals an intelligence and wit you wouldn't get from a typical shred-meister. Anderson also puts a stronger emphasis on his songs than his guitar work; while he makes it clear he's got the skills on the fretboard (especially on the surf-centric "Catbox Beach" and the psychedelic workout "Devil's Spaceship"), this doesn't play as a guitar showcase so much as a platform for Anderson's songs and production smarts, and both are in solid shape here. The oddly nostalgic "Electric Trains" and the philosophical "Ol' Sparky" and "Ishmael" boast clever lyrics along with great riffs, and the muscular but engaging sound of "Sentimental Chaos" and "Coming Down to Earth" confirm this guy knows his way around a studio. Undressing Underwater proves that, unlike most session dudes, Rusty Anderson has a fully developed musical personality of his own, and he knows how to express it through other avenues than a tasty solo.

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