CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Valley of the Roses," a new CD from steel guitarist Kayton Roberts, is a gem. Backed by Marty Stuart's Fabulous Superlatives, plus Chris Scruggs, Ranger Doug Green and Rob McNurlin, the music revisits country and western music, and it really cooks.
This is old-school steel guitar: A double-neck 1951 Fender Dual Professional Steel with no pedals, but plenty of fat, round tones, sparkling back-up fills, train sounds, bird effects and enough glissandos to slide from here to California.
And all pulled off with taste and restraint, which should come as no surprise, considering that Roberts was a member of Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Boys from 1967 until the country music legend's death in 1999.
Marty Stuart starts things off with some tasty acoustic guitar picking on an instrumental version of the Snow standard "A Fool Such as I."
"Opryland Swing" is aptly named, and showcases the killer guitar playing of Nashville ace Cuzn' Kenny Vaughan.
"Blow Whistle Blow' features executive producer (and songwriter) Rob McNurlin's heartfelt vocals.
Chris Scruggs belts out "Long Gone Daddy" in the best Hank Williams tradition.
Ranger Doug Green of Riders in the Sky croons "Beyond the Reef," with another super guitar break. Listen for Roberts' gull effects on the fade-out.
"Chime In" is a Roberts original, co-written with guitar legend Jerry Byrd.
Roberts really shines on "Kayton's Rag," which also has more fine breaks from Vaughan.
This is a well-recorded collection from top-shelf players. Highly recommended. It swings. "Valley of the Roses" is available at CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.com.