Creative Loafing (September 13, 1997)

Standing in my Shoes

by James Kelly

       There is no denying the influence Leo Kottke has had on a generation of guitar players and fans. His membership in Guitar Player magazine's Hall of Fame is well-deserved and places him in very good company. With 23 albums released over the past 25 years, it would seem there is little left for him to do. However, that is not the case, as Kottke takes his sound in a new and fresh direction on standing in my shoes. Produced by David Z (Prince), the album is a departure from Kottke's usual fare, with a heavy percussive sound that moves in a sort of "World Hip-Hop" groove. It is a wonderful blending of sound, rhythm, and Kottke's amazing picking.

       Even the three vocal tracks, long a point of contention and debate among Kottke's fans, have a rich and very appropriate place in the meandering flow of the music. The title track kicks off the disc and features Kottke singing. He sounds a lot like early J.J. Cale on this tune and the classic "Corrina, Corrina." The instrumental melodies Kottke creates are smooth and sorta mellow, and David Z's drum programming adds a subtle underlying swing that's somewhere between archaic and techno. Kottke is considered an innovator, and his use of programmed percussion is a unique counterbalance to his traditional fingerpicking style.

       As music moves into the next millennium, there will inevitably be a clash of the old and the new. Kottke is doing his part to bridge that gap, and to reconcile the dichotomy of human creativity and technology. There will be those who condemn the merger and those who rejoice. After hearing this album, all I have left to say is "Hallelujah!"

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