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September 2001

Chris Bowman
First Love
Niche Records

Best known as the composer of the CBS Early Show theme (yes, that's the one with Bryant Gumbel), guitarist Chris Bowman tries on several different contemporary styles, with mixed results, on First Love (Niche Records LLC 7070: 51:43). Bowman, who also handles synths and percussion programming, has a mellow, pleasingly melodic style that winds up mostly buried in lethargic, over-layered backgrounds. "Kissing You," for example, goes for fluttery, but winds up slow and syrupy, like Al Jarreau's "Morning," played on a slow-speed turntable. "Let It Rain," opening with a Beach Boys-meets-Boyz II Men vocal chorale, aims for gospel, but doesn't go anywhere, gooey keyboards drowning his introspective guitar work. Another odd choice, the electro-slap percussion marked disco-march "Bowman Bounce," with synth voice recalling Battlestar Galactica's Cylons, is, oddly enough, the only track that really gives Bowman the space to rock out a bit on some funky-riffing guitar. Several other tracks here are well executed if genre-generic (cruisin' upbeat, midnight funky), but the overall effect is a lack of unifying vision to draw appropriate attention to Bowman's greatest asset: his guitar work.

Originally published in September 2001
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