Review: Kenny Vaughan – V (Sugar Hill, 2011)
Kenny Vaughan’s an A-list guitar-picker, and though he’s made a living playing on some of Nashville’s mainstream product, his bona fides come from backing the cream of Americana acts, including Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Rodney Crowell and Marty Stuart. He’s been a member of Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives for a decade, playing Don to Stuart’s Buck, and the group backs him on this first solo album. The Buckaroos comparison comes to the fore in the tight harmony singing of “Stay Outta My Dreams,” and though Vaughan sings “Country Music Got a Hold on Me,” country music isn’t the whole show. Vaughan’s guitar twangs low and mysterious for the instrumental spy soul of “Mysterium” and closes the album with the rockabilly gospel on “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus.” His playing is impeccable throughout, kicking up echoes of Roy Nichols and picking lines that suggest Clarence White, but maintaining his own style and tone all the while. His vocals aren’t as polished as his strings, but he’s an enthusiastic singer and a canny songwriter who lays down convivial songs grounded in killer guitar and country-rock hooks worthy of NRBQ.