Minucci Has A Way With Wordless

Special EFX guitarist Chieli Minucci continues to make sweet music on his own with Sweet on You, the follow-up to his Shanachie debut, Masterpiece, which was billed as a Special EFX project. Minucci is all over the place these days, playing on hit albums by the Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Jewel.

Minucci fans will notice that the lead song on Sweet on You is an update of his "Endless Summer" (RealAudio excerpt), first heard on It's Gonna Be Good, his last CD for his longtime label, JVC. The song is still languorous and amazingly melodic, and still with Armsted Christian's worldless vocals. But Minucci lays down more licks on his electric guitar, the percussion is kicked up a notch and Gerald Albright blows some solid sax.

The title track (RealAudio excerpt) follows and throws in some classical guitar licks and some more gorgeous wordless vocals, this time by Rosanna Vitro. Only on two tracks, "Hot 100" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Little Squirt" (RealAudio excerpt), does he detour from the pop groove, cranking up the rock guitar and adding Barry Danielian's trumpet.

Minucci is at his absolute best when dishing up tempting nuggets on his electric ("Around the World," "On the Up an' Up"), but his acoustic ain't bad, especially on the flamenco-inspired "My Girl Sunday" and the pop-flavored "Everytime You're Near."

Another Minucci staple is the anthem, two of which are included here. "Breaking Away," which he says was inspired by the 1980s movie about bicycle racing, is energized by uplifting guitar lines and programmed drumming that recalls guitarist Pat Metheny's "Last Train Home." And "Farewell," which closes the CD, is a weepy ballad that features a number of guitars, fretless bass and vocal shading.