The first time I heard Bill Mize play acoustic guitar it was over tinny computer speakers—and it was breathtaking. The part-time Missoula resident (he spends half the year in Tennessee) regularly records sound clips for Greg Boyd's House of Fine Instruments, a gold mine for rare and exquisitely made guitars. According to employees at the local shop, Mize will spend an inordinate amount of time composing an original tune to play on each guitar he's asked to sample, then record it so the shop can post it online with its inventory. I know of at least one customer who's purchased a guitar at Boyd's in part because of how Mize made it sound.
That attention to detail and dedication to craft comes through on Mize's latest full-length effort, The Angel's Share. A collection of originals and covers, these 10 instrumentals offer a perfect showcase for the versatile finger-style guitarist. A cover of Ray Charles' "What I'd Say" gets the album off to a spunky start, but originals like the lilting title track and the African-tinged "Merciful Heavens" make more of an impression. I could have done without Beth Bramhall's accordion on the cutesy "Puppy Love," but found Pete Wasner's Hammond B-3 perfectly placed on a version of Charlie Rich's "Feel Like Going Home."
No matter what Mize's playing, it's a treat to hear his full songs under headphones—and not as clips on a computer.