Peter White – Smile (2014)

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England’s Peter White seems like an unlikely and reluctant guitar hero, but his accomplished past puts him in that category. And his upcoming release Smile, in fact, only reaffirms White’s status.

A well-regarded sideman with decades under his belt with Al Stewart, White continues to show his writing prowess on Smile, composing or co-composing all of the tracks. White, of course, co-wrote many of Stewarts’s songs — including the 1978 classic “Time Passages.” White also handled writing duties on his 2008 release, Good Day as well as Here We Go from 2012.

Smile, due October 7, 2014 via Concord, benefits from White’s jazz/rock sensibilities and skill as a programmer. “Holding Me Closer” flies with its contemporary synth feel and uplifting lyrics. While he may be best known for electric parts with Stewart, here he returns to his fabled nylon. His acoustic is never overshadowed by his production, however, as Smile boasts a clean, evocative feel.

The album also benefits from special guest Mindi Abair’s vocals, as well as guest turns by Rick Braun and Euge Groove on brass and soprano saxophone, respectively. “Don Quixote’s Final Quest” demonstrates White’s intricate finger picking over a Spanish backdrop. His playing of the nylon-string guitar harkens to another era, yet seems perfectly attuned to this contemporary setting.

On “Head Over Heels” White encorporates an almost Steely Dan-like sensibility over a synth- and percussion-driven intro. The song then sails along with a Larry Carlton/acoustic feel, which is both spirited and sophisticated. In fact, spirited and sophisticated describes the whole vibe of Peter White’s terrific new album.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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