Theme From A Perfect World

Andy Timmons Band

Timstone Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The path of the instrumental rock guitarist is not an easy one. Not only will you inevitably fall short of the popularity and appeal of rock music with vocals, but the gold standard in the genre has long since been well-established by the likes of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Ronnie Montrose. To play in that league, you need to be world-class in at least two of the three chief components of instrumental guitar music—tone, speed, and composition—if not all three.

And there’s your punchline: Andy Timmons ranks with the best players going today in all three categories.

It’s been a decade since the veteran guitar-slinger’s last album of original music, 2006’s superb Resolution, with a stop in between for the cover album Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt. Pepper (2011). You’re reminded almost immediately of what makes Timmons special as a guitarist; besides possessing phenomenal tone and feel and the ability to reel off tremendously nimble solos at the drop of a hat, he’s a terrific songwriter. While there’s plenty of room to stretch out, solo, and explore, tunes like buoyant opener “Ascension” and its driving companion piece “Winterland” feature something close to verse-chorus-verse structure, and prominent hooks. “Lift Us Up (Something Wicked This Way Comes)” similarly surges and falls back more than once before breaking down and returning for an extended, skyscraping solo in its final act. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sitting third on this 10-track, 53-minute outing, the title track eschews the propulsive approach of the first two tracks for more of a limber, flexible, spacious, thoughtful feel—at first. Timmons’ ridiculously pure, rich tone reminds of Satriani in places, but where Satch defaults into mind-blowing solos and effects, Timmons will pause to focus more on melody and flow and the results are very appealing. That said, he’s as eager to cut loose as the next guy, and promptly does so around 3:10 in this seven and a half minute tune, moving through four distinct segments before circling back around for a summing-up reprise at the close.

“Sanctuary” and “The Next Voice You Hear” offer microcosms of the above approach, pairing quieter, bluesier sections with explosive power chords. The invaluable support of bassist/co-producer Mike Daane and drummers Rob Avsharian and Mitch Marine makes it possible for Timmons to shift gear at will, exploring moments of delicate, restrained tension (the opening to “That Day Came”), elastic mid-tempo explorations (the very pretty “Firenze”), and galloping hard rock (the steady-building, propulsive “Welcome Home”). “On Your Way Sweet Soul” closes things out on a serious note, a spacious, elegiac number that’s flat-out gorgeous in places, with majestic ascending lines that repeat and evolve.

The other thing about instrumental guitar music is, you have to be in the mood for it, ready to receive its wordless wisdom. The magic Andy Timmons performs again and again is to deliver songs so well-constructed, delivered with such passion and absolutely superb tone, that you barely notice the absence of vocals. In a genre where the bar has long since been set at absurd heights, the Andy Timmons Band’s Theme From A Perfect World clears it with room to spare.

Rating: A-

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© 2016 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Timstone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.