Calling the Dixie Dregs a fusion band doesn't really do them justice. Granted, their music is full of the complicated forms, jazz-influenced improvisations, and heavy rock attitude of the genre, but the Dregs also incorporate country, folk, and classical elements into their compositions. Although there is more than a little of the 1970s fusion of Jeff Beck and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in their music and especially on this record, the Dixie Dregs transcend these genre limitations so well that they might as well be performing in a different idiom. On What If, their finest album, Steve Morse and company breathtakingly illustrate their peculiar musical vision. As per standard operating procedure, Morse is the primary composer and chief sonic architect. He is blessed with some of the greatest technique in rock guitar, and he utilizes every facet of it, whether burning unison runs with violinist Allen Sloan, chunking heavy, palm-muted lines along with bassist Andy West, or playing impressively contrapuntal classically inflected nylon-string guitar. Morse also has a very distinctive composing voice, and this shines through on seven of the eight tracks. The strongest moments on What If are Morse songs that incorporate a more folky influence into the fusion, such as the almost straight-up country of "Gina Lola Breakdown." Also impressive is West's lone songwriting contribution, "Travel Tunes." This song lives up to its name by moving between melodies apparently derived from British folk music, angular fusion grooves, a Caribbean-sounding interlude, and straight-up rock & roll. The fact that the Dixie Dregs do this is a credit to their creativity; the fact that it works is a testament to their musicianship. This is music without labels -- emotional and logical at the same time, passionately played, and immaculately conceived. It is worth every penny.
AllMusic Review by Daniel Gioffre