Jon Rauhouse

Steel Guitar Heart Attack

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The title of this album might lead you to expect something along the lines of rowdy honky tonk country music. But no. Instead, what you get is a sweet-natured, generally kind of laid-back exploration of Texas swing, big-band jazz and vintage pop songs, along with a smattering of bongos and the occasional hint of a Hawaiian luau. From the relaxed, almost decorous version of "Idaho" that opens the program to the gleefully rollicking rendition of "The Fishin' Hole" that closes it, Steel Guitar Heart Attack offers plenty of good swinging fun, but most of it is delivered at tempos that can only be called modest. And there's nothing wrong with that, especially when guest singer Neko Case is crooning her way through an all-too-brief version of "East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)" or Rachel Flotard is bringing a surprisingly touching shading of gently resigned heartbreak to "Harbor Lights." There are even a couple of TV themes, believe it or not -- a wacky rendition of the theme from "Mannix" -- and that album-closing take on "Fishin' Hole," which most will recognize as the theme from the Andy Griffith Show but which, it turns out, is actually a real song with lyrics. Are there missteps? Yes, a couple -- Jon Rauhouse is a great guitarist but only a passable banjo picker, and his two banjo showcases fall rather flat. Everything else on this album, though, is a hoot and a joy.

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