Al Anderson – After Hours (2006)
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For those expecting an album of bad-attitude rockers, a la Anderson’s last solo record, or much of what he did with NRBQ, After Hours may be something of a disappointment; the guy who has been making his guitar bark and howl all these decades has chosen to trade in his nasty bite for some laid-back charm.
This isn’t exactly crooner music, but it’s close — call it Anderson’s Almost Blue.
Luckily, he hasn’t lost his way with a hook or a clever turn of phrase; lines like “It’s only natural for me to love you/Mother Nature at her best” (from “It’s Only Natural” [download]) are scattered throughout the album with the sort of casual grace you’d expect from a songwriter of Anderson’s stature.
And he’s really a songwriter now; since retiring from the Q a decade and change ago, Anderson has probably made more money writing songs for other people than he ever did as a performer. He’s Mr. Nashville Big Time now, and it shows on After Hours — his co-writers include Music Row luminaries such as Gary Nicholson and Delbert McClinton, and the players have been plucked from the same firmament. Lending the album even more of a professional-demo feel is Anderson’s puzzling decision to step away from the mike entirely for the Tia Sillers-sung “What’s A Thousand Miles”; it’s the only real misstep on the record, and that isn’t because Sillers is a crummy singer or “Miles” is a bad song. It’s just that people buy Al Anderson records to hear…Al Anderson.
After Hours won’t turn Anderson into the solo star he never was, but it should please most longtime fans, and before too long, you’ll probably be hearing someone else’s version of tracks such as “Better Word for Love” (download) on your local country station.