Next Big Thing by Vince Gill

Vince Gill made folks happy by sounding sad. Then he made some people sad by sounding happy. Now he’s happy but sounding sad – surely that will make everyone happy.

Vince made his name with a melancholy sound; there was something about the way his pure, airborne tenor mixed with a sad song that added up to goosebumps. And when he chronicled his happiness with then-new wife Amy Grant on 2000’s Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye, many complained that the more cheerful sound didn’t suit him. What’s a guy to do when everyone likes him better miserable?

Answer: He gives ’em what they want, at least on record. By all accounts, Vince’s personal life has never been better, but you’d never know it listening to his 12th album, Next Big Thing. “She Never Makes Me Cry” and “These Few Days” (featuring Amy singing backup) is a surprisingly chilling look at mortality from a man who’s only 46. Even the musically jumpin’ Top 20 title cut casts a disappointed lyrical eye on our culture’s fickleness. ("Young Man’s Town” later deals with the same topic in a more somber way.)

There are rays of hope: “The Sun’s Gonna Shine on You” and “Two Hearts” offer promises that life’s pain can be eased. But the most joyous songs are about Vince’s first love: “Old Time Fiddle” and “This Old Guitar and Me” testify to music’s power to heal and sustain. It’s why sometimes even Vince Gill can’t help but sound like a happy man.

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