[Rating: 4 stars]
Guitarist/singer/songwriter/producer Will Kimbrough has always been one of the most talented sidemen in the biz. But with “Wings,” his fifth album, he’s finally fulfilled his potential to become a force on his own terms, in his own words. These songs, borne of the maturity a husband and father learns to accept somewhere along the way—even if he is a musician—are beautiful, understated odes to the joys and challenges those responsibilities bring. Interestingly, the title tune (co-written with Jimmy Buffett), “You Can’t Go Home,” “A Couple Hundred Miracles” and other tracks sound as if Kimbrough’s sometime-boss, Rodney Crowell, could have written them (though Kimbrough doesn’t slip into Crowell’s sometimes maddening propensity for inanity). The swamp-pop-flavored Todd Snider co-write “It Ain’t Cool” simmers like a threat; “Love To Spare” sounds like a John Lennon love song. The gospel-y “Open to Love” doesn’t quite achieve liftoff, but it still moves well. Regardless, with “Wings,” Kimbrough soars.