Album Review: Kenny Vaughan — V
Those who’ve seen Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlative perform live or caught an episode of The Marty Stuart Show have probably taken special notice of the lanky, bespectacled guitar whiz whose usual spot is to Stuart’s right. That’s “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan, one of the finest pickers in country music.
Vaughan, a longtime Superlative and former student of Bill Frisell (he’s also toured with Lucinda Williams and numerous other Americana and country artists), has delivered a solo debut that draws on his years of experience and myriad musical influences. V is the epitome of retro cool, drawing on classic country, rockabilly, surf music, and a touch of late ‘60s/early ‘70s Southern rock for an album boasting several songs that sound timeless—well, except for “Hot Like That,” which references reality television star Kim Kardashian.
Though Vaughan is fairly limited vocally, he makes it work for him with rapid-fire deliveries on songs like the sung-chanted “Stay Outta My Dreams.” The bulk of the musical heavy lifting is done extremely well by Vaughan, Stuart, and the Fabulous Superlatives, with a handful of guests adding welcome flourishes. The Oak Ridge Boys contribute their tight harmonies to “Okolona, Tennessee,” while Charles Treadway plays organ on moody surf instrumental “Mysterium.” It’s these instrumentals that best showcase Vaughan’s sheer talent, with his intricate, uber twangy guitar work commanding the listener’s full attention on “Wagon Ride” and “Minuit Sur La Plage.”
V ends with “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus,” a toetapper of a gospel song that explains“You may forget your keys/You May forget your phone,” but never go anywhere without the Lord tucked in your back pocket. It’s helpful advice, for those who may lean that way. Here’s some more: don’t go another day without listening to V.
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