(133) Dan Ouelette, Billboard -- June 30 2007

Outside of the West Coast's in-the-know jazz scene, Nels Cline is best recognized for commanding the lead guitar chair in Wilco. There he weaves and embellishes; here, he dreams, drones, relentlessly rocks and deliciously resonates with quiet lyricism.  Of course, all this is achieved sans vocalists, with Cline's top-drawer trio featuring bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Scott Amendola giving voice to the leader's expressive tunes and excursions.  The simpler fair is best, such as the opening beauty of "Caved-In Heart Blues," the 3/4/ time "The Angel of Angels" and the quiet acoustic twins "Recognize I" and "Recognize II." Brawny rockers also rule, including jagged "Attempted" and the play-it-loud "Confection." Less effective are the expansive avant improvs, which suffer from editing. Case in point: the propulsive "Mixed Messages," which detours from Cline's riveting guitar spectacle with a pocket of tiptoe playing, -DO

Dan Ouelette
June 30 2007