No Stranger To A Tele
Hightone Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/04/2001
Redd Volkaert might not look like the kind of guy who could make a Telecaster sing; if anything, the burly Canadian looks like someone who cut down the tree that his guitar was made from.
But fans of country music know better. Volkaert has been a member of Merle Haggard's band since 1997, and has been one of the most in-demand session men in Nashville. His second solo CD, No Stranger To A Tele, demonstrates his skill on the six-string with amazing results.
At times, this disc has the feel of one of the old instrumental albums you'd find in your parents' record collection. (No, that's not unhip to say; there were a lot of records my parents had like this that I still enjoy listening to.) Tracks like "Diminishing Flames" and the title track do have that retro feel to them, and are surprisingly easy to get hooked on. Volkaert nicely manages to put a vintage sound on moder-day recording; it's like you get the memories of yesterday without the pops and skips of a record!
At first, I actually found myself disappointed that No Stranger To A Tele was not strictly an instrumental album; Volkaert is such a talented guitarist that he could easily do an album without vocals and make it a disc you'd want to again the moment the last song faded out. But Volkaert's rich bass voice wins out over even the harshest critic, again creating a retro feel to his style of country on songs like "End Of The Line," "Big Big Love," "Back To Back" and "Conscience Turn Your Back".
What's more, fun is the name of the game on this disc - and it's easy to tell that Volkaert was having the time of his life recording this. Just the way he delivers the final "get out" on "End Of The Line," you know that even though he says it with seriousness, he meant for the listener to smile the moment he said it. Likewise, the brief comments on songs like "Drewpster" and "Chee-Z" will make you show off your pearly whites.
Even in the instrumental works, fun is the key ingredient on No Stranger To A Tele. Listen to "T'wango" and feel like you're listening to a modern-day rock guitarist before you're pulled back to the heart of the song. It's incredible what Volkaert allows himself to get away with on this disc - yet it all comes together like clockwork.
Volkaert might not be a household name, but No Stranger To A Tele should be the disc that introduces him to a whole new audience. Well? Don't be a stranger. Pick this disc up and invite Volkaert in... then hang on to the sides of your chair as he takes you for a wonderful ride.