It may still be accurate to describe Charlie Hunter as a guitarist, but his incredible facility on his altered beast of an instrument and setup-three bass strings, five guitar strings, two amps and specially fanned frets-set him a country mile apart from a typical six-stringer. The attributes that made his name-impossibly thick chords, relentless syncopation, independent bass lines-are in evidence on Songs From the Analog Playground, but they are far from the main attraction. A chilled-out Hunter takes a supporting role on this one, giving nearly all the lead-time to the vocalists, and splitting the leftovers with longtime cohort saxophonist David Ellis; percussionists Chris Lovejoy and Stephen Chopek round out the band. The resulting recording falls somewhere between a vocal-jazz thing and an R&B thing, which is probably what Hunter had in mind all along. Predictably, Playground sinks or swims with the singers.
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