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Return CD - Kenny Smith



 
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Flatpicking master Kenny Smith has just released his first all instrumental CD in 15 years! Kenny's talent has continued to developed and matured since his groud-breaking first instrumental recording Studebaker. This is a "must have" CD for any fan of flatpicking guitar music.

On this new recording he has used an amazing set of vintage guitars, each with its own history and rich sonic texture are at the heart of this collection.  Fellow musicians Barry Bales, Adam Steffey, Aubrey Haynie, Jim Denman and Adam Hurt support Kenny's guitar. Great band, incredible guitars, and fabulous flatpicking!

Here is the review from Flatpicking Guitar Magazine reviewer Chris Thiessen:

It�s been 15 years since an �emerging hot guitarist� named Kenny Smith recorded Studebaker, which immediately became a standard in most guitarists� CD collection. In the intervening years, Smith has solidified his position in the upper echelon of acoustic guitarists of our age, first through his work with Lonesome River Band and then with the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band. In that sense, the release of Return marks another milestone in his career as a �solo� artist (apart from his work in the band setting).

As Kenny writes in the CD booklet: ��I asked a lot of my students/guitar fanatics/people afflicted with a good dose of guitar poisoning, what kind of guitar project would you like to hear next? The overwhelming response was that they wanted a project fill of old fiddle tunes with some originals mixed in.� An artist should meet his audience�s expectation; but with Smith, exceeding expectations is more the norm.

To accomplish this, Smith assembled some stellar musicians, some of whom also appeared on Studebaker. Barry Bales (bass) and Adam Steffy (mandolin) both return, now accompanied by Jim Denman (5-string banjo), Adam Hurt (clawhammer banjo), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), and special guests Zachary McLamb, Trent Callicut, and Spencer Strickland (from the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band) on the Smith original tune �Model A.�

And just as requested, this 14-cut project nicely balances original Smith tunes (�Warren Chapel,� �Rising Fawn,� and �Model A�) against standard fiddle tunes (�Cumberland Gap,� �Leather Britches,� �Arkansas Traveler,� �Sail Away Ladies,� �Forked Deer,� and �Billy in the Lowground�). Added for good measure are Tommy Jackson�s �Acorn Hill Breakdown� and Tommy Magnese�s �Black Mountain Rag,� Closing the CD � reminiscent of how Studebaker closed � is a slow acoustic version of �Jesus Loves Me.� And although every tune encourages repeated listenings, I was particular impressed by the sheer exuberant originality of the two Denman tunes, �Half Step� and �Getaway.�

One of the characteristics of Smith�s style is to maximize the resonance of his guitar. For Return, Kenny has assembled as notable a cast of instruments as musicians. This is immediately evident on the cover of the CD: he�s playing the Norman Blake 1933 shaded top D-28S. Kenny shares his appreciation of these instruments by devoting three pages of the CD booklet to photos and descriptions of the guitars used on this CD: a 1935 prototype of the Gibson Advanced Jumbo, Kenny�s 1935 Martin D-18, and Blake�s 1933 D-28S (loaned to Smith for this project by Gary Burnette, who also provided the Gibson). On the notes for the tunes, Kenny indicates which guitar he uses on which tunes, which just encourages you to go back for more listening.

Finally, special production kudos must go to Glenn Tabor, who co-produced (with Smith) this album. Tabor (owner of Gat3 Productions) has a history of working with Kenny and Amanda, and has produced as acoustically transparent a recording as I�ve had the pleasure of hearing in a long time.

In summary: if you have Studebaker you owe it to yourself to get Return. And be sure to memorize those guitar details: you never know when there�s going to be a quiz.

Tune List: Half Step; Warren Chapel; Cumberland Gap; Getaway; Rising Fawn; Acorn Hill Breakdown; Leather Britches; Model A; Sail Away Ladies; Forked Deer; Billy in the Lowground; Black Mountain Rag; Jesus Loves Me

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