Marty Balin

Nashville Sessions

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Nashville Sessions, the title of a self-released Marty Balin album available on the websites www.jbppresentsmartybalin.com and www.jeffersonstarshipsf.com, suggests that the veteran rock singer who founded Jefferson Airplane and was a member of Jefferson Starship has gone country. That turns out to be only about half true, however. Certainly, the arrangements and instrumentation on the album differ from those on most albums featuring Balin. Nearly every track has at least one identifiably country instrument -- fiddle, mandolin, Dobro, pedal steel guitar -- though usually not more than one. Certain songs are in styles not usually associated with Balin, including the leadoff track, "Rising from the Ashes," which has a Cajun sound, and the closing track, "Red Roses," which has the closest thing to a straight country arrangement. For the most part, however, Nashville Sessions is more the lighter side of Balin than the country side. With his distinctively elastic tenor, Balin has always had an affinity for love ballads, and here he indulges that ability. There is a folk-rock ballad version of his Top Ten Jefferson Starship hit "Count on Me" that boasts a slightly revised melody, as well as a remake of "Hold Me," a song from the 1986 self-titled album by the K.B.C. Band (a short-lived Jefferson Airplane spinoff group made up of Paul Kantner, Balin, and Jack Casady), that has something of the flavor of Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy." There are also songs like the melodic rocker "Hide My Heart" that could be from any Balin album. It doesn't seem likely that this longtime San Francisco resident is going to don a cowboy hat and move to Music City any time soon, but Nashville Sessions is not just a genre experiment; it's a worthy hybrid of styles that showcases a great singer.

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