Hedge Drive Records

Tim Stafford, again and again, displays why he is one of the most talented people in bluegrass. A co-founder of Blue Highway, he’s contributed countless great songs, wonderful vocals, and stunning guitar work to that landmark band. He’s co-authored the definitive Tony Rice biography. And his solo CDs such as Just To Hear The Whistle Blow reveal another side of his talents as a more mainstream acoustic writer, singer, and guitar player.

It’s that skill the former IBMA Guitar Player Of The Year brings to bear on his aptly titled new solo CD, Acoustic Guitar. Blessed with an exquisite ear, superlative-creating touch and technique, and a nuanced sense of taste, no one in bluegrass has ever made the guitar sound better than Tim Stafford.

The material here ranges from dream-infused soft original melodies such as the elegiac “Janet’s Waltz” for his lovely wife and the opening cuts “Safe Water And Distant Island” to mainstream fiddle tunes and the standards “Wildwood Flower” and “Temperance Reel.” A murderer’s row of Nashville greats guest star on some cuts, although the liner notes don’t spell out who plays on which track.

In keeping with his espoused passion for the instrument, Stafford does nicely notate the grand array of modern and vintage guitars used here, including his legendary 1934 Martin D-18, a 1943 “Banner” Gibson J-45 (complete with FON batch number), his superb Mario Proulx cedar and cocobolo dreadnought, and more, to the delight of guitar geeks everywhere.

Tim’s guitar technique on these elegant instruments runs the full range, from intricate and delicate flatpicking to lush chordal work on “Angel Terrace” and solid Travis-style fingerpicking on the energetic “Hillbilly Neighbor.” “Girl I Left Behind Me” should appeal most to bluegrass guitar fans here, especially with the legendary tone-meister Adam Steffey blending in his trademark clean-as-a-whisper mandolin leads, along with the rollicking tunes “Backseat Blues” and “Tideline.” And the patriotic “I Am America” draws upon the tragedies that have engulfed us, both large and small, to create a statement of hope and purpose.

Taken as a whole, Acoustic Guitar gives Tim Stafford the perfect platform to show fans of many forms of guitar music how he hears his unique voice on the instrument. A modern classic of great tone, tunes, and technique, this album is not to be missed. (www.timstaffordguitar.com)DJM

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