Luke Guy Reed,
No Hat
(Solent, 2003)

Isle of Wight-born Luke Guy Reed shows just how fluent he is in the language of country music on his fourth album, No Hat. The 10 tracks co-written by Reed and Graham Walker are virtually indistinguishable from the two cover songs on the album, evidence that Reed's British roots haven't kept him from developing into a full-fledged country artist.

The opener "No Hat" makes you want to pull on your cowboy boots and hit the dance floor at the nearest honky-tonk. Reed has clearly honed his songwriting and guitar-playing into a sound that is distinctively country, and the lyrics and music respond well to his rich baritone.

Reed softens his deep-voiced burr to a smoky drawl on a few songs, and "Realize Her Dreams" and "If It Feels Good" could entice birds out of the trees. "Everybody's Different" modulates between husky and soft singing, but somehow it works.

The award-winning "Whisky to Wine" is good, though not a favorite. "Banjo Picker" is a wonderful song with great instrumentals. The songs may sound familiar to listeners of a certain age, probably because country radio was infused with this kind of music back in the 1970s.

Reed warns you in the album's title that he wears no hat. But he could. His convincing, sincere and heartfelt sound is evocative of Canada's country gentleman, Tommy Hunter. Both men's voices create a range of mood values that are highly entertaining and popular with fans.

Perhaps a good subtitle for this album would be "Charlie Pride & Buck Owens Ride Again." Hat or no hat, country doesn't get much better than this.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 6 November 2004

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