Although not a huge name in today's music world, singer-guitarist William Hart Strecker has spent several decades establishing himself as a solid presence in a number of different genres, including blues, jazz, and even country-rock. Along the way he had to survive a horrible accident and find a way to recover physically and rebuild his career. His second album as a soloist, Smoke And Clouds, would seem to prove that he has done so.
Strecker's background includes service with a wide variety of performers — everyone from jazz stars Dizzy Gillespie and Jaco Pastorius to pop icons Madonna and Cher. At one time or another he's also been part of such groups as Asleep At The Wheel, Pure Prairie League, and others.
But his career almost ended about ten years ago, when he left the road and collided with a tree. He was in a coma for weeks, and even after awakening was still so badly injured that he was unable to walk. A long period of rehabilitation followed, but Strecker began gradually working his way back into music — first just composing, but eventually performing again.
A while back Strecker formed a songwriting partnership with Chris Eminizer, a talented multi-instrumentalist and veteran performer in his own right. The duo - accompanied by producer/bassist Ken Rich and a number of other veteran sidemen - have filled this album with some examples of their composing talents.
Strecker pretty much sticks to acoustic guitar and handles all the lead vocals, and he's a confident and skilled singer who has been compared to Neil Young, Tom Petty, and Roger McGuinn, but this album proved to be a little tough for me to nail down. The first time through, I found the individual tracks pleasant enough but they seemed repetitive and derivative. However, I realized that I might have paid too much attention to the instrumental side of things, so I replayed the album and the second time around I focused a little closer on the lyrics.