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June 2000

Chris Standring
Hip Sway
Instinct Records

When showcasing the hypnotically free-flowing, cornered guitar licks of Chris Standring, Hip Sway (Instinct INS502-2; 62:57) is a bluesy, funky romp. However, the album's best tracks are counter-balanced by several dips into the over-arranging pool, blunting the effect of some of the fine guitarist's best work. Into the former category fall the retro-walking "Glamour Girls," which finds Standring's effortless jazz-chorus licks supported by warm-toned horns, and the funky, edgy "Pins & Needles." Other standout tracks include the wigged-out "Ultraviolet," which trades acoustic guitar and wild drum rolls, and "Small Talk," which gets its cool elemental rock feel from organ and harmonica. A keyboard-washy cover of "I'm Not in Love" sounds completely out of place among these strong statements, while other tracks start with great ideas that are eventually buried. For example, Tony Guererro's flugelhorn provides a meditative counterpoint to Standring's low-toned, romantic lead on "How Deep Is Your Love," but the effect is lost in an annoying "trotting" keyboard setting, which gives the piece a stringy, Muzak feel. Likewise, the shuffling, offbeat "Big Feet... Big Shoes" loses punchy staccato guitar and a nifty bass walk when the keyboards pile on.

Originally published in June 2000
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