July/August 2005

Peppino D'Agostino, Stef Burns
Bayshore Road
Favored Nations

That especially pungent cheese known as guitar wankery, whose smell is ubiquitously generated in Guitar Centers around the nation by jean-shorts-clad ax-slingers auditioning news ways to impress commission-hungry salesman, can be sampled in great stinking chunks throughout Bayshore Road. This acoustic-meets-electric CD is a collaboration between fingerstyle stalwart Peppino D'Agostino and Stef Burns, former six-stringer for hair metal mavens Y&T. Session man is as session man does, and since Burns has played heavily supporting others-including the pop-appeal likes of Alice Cooper, Pablo Cruise and, ahem, Michael Bolton-it's not often his Stratocaster ever emotes a genuinely personal phrase.

The swaying, swelling "Inner Sanctuary" sounds like any generic Pacific Coast anthem made to back a cruise-ship ad, and the piercing, reverb-soaked wails of "Beyond the Dunes" are pure, empty melodrama. D'Agostino plays somewhat of a supporting role, laying the foundation for his partner's excessiveness with plucky, overaccented rhythm. When D'Agostino does take solos, they are like Burns': unmemorable and overrendered. It's all too much, this show of hot licks and cold emotion. And if Joe Zawinul's "Birdland" elicited a sickening feeling when you heard it on a Weather Report album, stand back.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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