Lenny Breau. “Swingin’ on a Seven String” (Art of Life Al1013-2)
Recorded in 1984 as “When Lightin’ Strikes”, this Lenny Breau set features the pedal steel guitar playing of the great Buddy Emmons in mostly “country” standards as “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams. In case you didn’t realize it, the seven string Lenny plays is a high seven string. This is the last recording by the incredible Lenny Breau. He himself didn’t live to see the release of this recording. There are some fantastic sounds by Lenny and company. I recall when this record was first put out, many fans of his were distressed and thought this was an attempt to make a totally “commercial” recording. That’s rather funny when you listen to the beauty that Lenny can coax from a simple tune.
Lenny uses his wonderful artificial harmonics plus the classical tremolo he’s so famous for. The few tracks Lenny plays electric guitar (1,11) are I think, a six string. The nylon guitar is a seven. The CD starts with “Back Home In Indiana”. Lenny and Buddy go crazy exchanging solos with Buddy sounding positively possessed. The warm and delicate “You Needed Me” is Lenny at his best, emotional and controlled.
“I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” (Track #4) and here’s Lenny making you feel as if he almost wrote the tune. Fabulous harmonics and you get right into the spirit of what this simple but beautiful tune is all about. The touching “I Love You Because” “Please Release Me” and “She Thinks I Still Care” are delightful renditions.
Lenny Breau goes for it all on this record. The wonderful Buddy Emmons plays on all the odd numbered tracks and is sensational. The interplay and fun between them is easily apparent. This is still mostly Lenny’s recording.
What’s interesting to me is that someone like Lenny can take a tune that most people would think of as a country or pop tune and play it like a Kern, Porter, or any other great composer and make it sound like a standard tune that we are all so taken with.
It’s a joy when these records are released on CD and this is one all Lenny Breau fans will love.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Lenny’s and this recording is one of his most satisfying.
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Review - Lenny Breau "Swinging on a 7 String"