Vince Gill thinks Guitar Slinger is his best album, and that’s saying something. Yet he figures the average country fan won’t hear it.
That listener usually picks up her music on the radio, and precious few mainstream country stations will be playing Gill’s music in heavy rotation. As a player with a keen sense of country music history, he’s seen it happen time and again. He was saddened when they stopped playing Merle Haggard and George Jones. He understood why, but that doesn’t make it easier to take.
“I just felt like, ‘Don’t stop playing them because of their age,’” Gill said. “If they’re not as good, if the records aren’t as great, if the crap coming along is better, great. That’s all I ever wanted any of the people coming along to be was great. But if you get replaced by what you feel is not even close to as good, that messes with you, I guess.”
Gill is 54. There are a few artists in the over-50 set who get a pass like George Strait and Reba McEntire. But Gill thinks he’s a better songwriter, player and singer than at any time in his life, and the proof is on Guitar Slinger, his follow-up to his 2006 Grammy-winning album These Days.
It’s a deeply personal album, recorded in his new home studio with close friends and his wife Amy Grant and daughters contributing. Some of the songs are among the most powerful he’s written, including a pair of tributes to friends he’s lost recently. It’s an album that sounds like, to Gill, what country music should sound like. It’s powerful, story-driven music that doesn’t bow to the trends.