Release Date: Feb 12, 2016
Record label: MCA
Genre(s): Bluegrass, Country, Adult Contemporary, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Progressive Bluegrass, Roots Rock, Contemporary Country, New Traditionalist, Country-Folk, Country
The last two Vince Gill albums celebrated their intentions within their titles: 2011's Guitar Slinger found plenty of space for his six-string prowess and his 2013 duet LP with Paul Franklin was a valentine to Bakersfield country. Down to My Last Bad Habit, his first solo album in a half-decade, is a slightly more complicated affair. While it can't be called a concept album, it's certainly unified by a soulful sensibility, trading heavily on slow, simmering grooves and favoring a feel so warm it feels as comfortable as an old tattered sweater.
Vince Gill is an encyclopedia of country tradition, whether he's reviving western swing with the Time Jumpers, producing new standard-bearer Ashley Monroe, or wrapping his Oklahoma high tenor around "Sad One Comin' On (Song for George Jones)" – a note-perfect honky-tonk weeper about the king of honky-tonk weepers. That’s the odd-card highlight of a set that focuses on smooth Eighties-style country-pop and ballad schmaltz, which after all is Nashville tradition, too. The title track is achey-breaky quiet storming with wit; "I Can't Do This" is grand piano melodrama that might make even Richard Marx – who, as it happens, co-wrote two other songs here – blush.
If there were such a thing as the mayor of country music, Vince Gill would surely be elected in a landslide. In addition to his own estimable contributions to the genre as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist over the last 30-plus years, he has been a go-to instrumentalist, harmony vocalist, producer, and awards-show host. He’s also a consistent, vocal, and eloquent cheerleader for the format, mounting sporadic benefits for the Country Music Hall of Fame and serving as a bridge to other genres.