Breakfast For Dogs, Don Ross’ first solo guitar outing since 1999’s Passion Session, brings just enough innovation to familiar grounds, making it a disc worth hearing. It may seem that Ross’ relaxed virtuosity modulates within the boundaries of his comfort zone, but the range he is capable of exploring is actually quite broad. The tunes on this album are delivered with an unwavering enthusiasm for the instrument, and his connection with the novelty of the guitar is a theme that moves the listener through these tracks. What differentiates this collection from albums by some of Ross’ peers is that it doesn’t aim to be merely a podium for “gee-whiz” technical prowess, like the worst of Leo Kottke’s albums, but is an honestly played record, one that doesn’ t hide its weaknesses or carry a crutch.
The obsession with rhythm on this set of tunes has arguable merit. On one hand, the persistent 4/4 beat that most of the songs are anchored by, such as on “From France to India” and “Crazy”, provides a rhythmic underpinning closest to ragtime, with syncopated beats in the bass. On the other hand, the treatment of the melody and overall playing style is colored by a funky, almost disco feel, and so a song that might flourish were it given the chance to walk on its own two feet comes off as smarmy and cloying, with a snappy backbeat like so much mid-90’ s pop rock. Continue reading