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Music Review: Sterling Koch – Let It Slide

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If you are a guitar aficionado and are looking for something a little different, then Let It Slide by Sterling Koch (pronounced Cook) may be an album for you.

Koch was a traditional six-string guitarist for the first three decades of his career, but a severe neck injury led him to the pedal steel guitar in 2004. The six-string’s loss was the pedal steel’s gain as he has emerged as one of the leading proponents and practitioners of the instrument. He has now returned with his fifth album.

Koch keeps the music simple. Bassist Gene Babula and drummer John Goba provide the foundation for his music. Koch adds keyboards to one track and backing vocals on another but that’s about it. It keeps the focus on his slide guitar skills, which are some of the best in the business. The pedal steel has a unique and distinct sound and he is able to mine that sound with a clarity and vibrancy.

While there are a few covers, he wrote or co-wrote eight of the 13 tracks. “Wrong Side of the Blues” has a complete band feel as his guitar sound floats over the rhythm section. “Working Man Blues,” “Blow My Mind,” “Lonely Avenue,” “I Only Want to Be with You,” and “I Don’t Know Why” are all Chicago-type blues with a contemporary flavor. The tempos are varied and his playing precise.

The best of the cover songs is the Elmore James blues tune “It Hurts Me Too,” a fine vehicle not only for his guitar but also his vocals. It is also interesting to hear a pedal steel’s approach to Doyle Bramhall’s “Too Sorry.”

Sterling Koch has issued a creative album of music based on his expertise with the pedal steel guitar. Let It Slide is a unique approach as it travels a different instrumental path and is worth a listen.

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