It seems fair to say that for every country star crooning under his cowboy hat in the spotlight, there are several pickers standing just behind him in the shadows thinking to themselves, "I can play rings around this guy. I can sing, I can write, and I'm not bad looking. Why am I here on salary while he's out there getting the big bucks?" There's no way of knowing whether Brad Davis has ever mused in this way to himself as he's played guitar behind Marty Stuart, Earl Scruggs, Billy Bob Thornton, the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, and the Forester Sisters, and recorded with them, as well as Sheryl Crow, Warren Zevon, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and Pam Tillis. But if he did, there would be some justice in his attitude. On This World Ain't No Child, his second FGM (short for Fingerpicking Guitar magazine) release, Davis writes or co-writes all 12 songs, sings in an engaging, if not overwhelmingly distinctive, tenor, and, of course, picks a superior acoustic guitar as well as his own self-designed Brad Bender, accompanied by such buddies and bandmates as Thornton (who applies his limited voice to "Shadows"), Sam Bush, John Jorgenson, Béla Fleck, and Tommy Shaw of Styx. Especially on the album's first several tracks, the players turn in some terrific bluegrass-style work, but the quality of the performing extends throughout the disc. The songs are a bit stronger than those on Davis' 2003 collection I'm Not Gonna Let My Blues Bring Me Down, so that this is not just a glorified picking session. But that may mean the album won't so much launch the artist as a recording star as it will serve the function of a publishing demo to get the tunes to more established acts. If so, the disc may mean another step on Davis' trip to solo stardom. If not, he's still not likely ever to be out of work.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann